What are the core values of your organization? Do you know? Are they buried in an orientation manual? Somewhere on your website, but your just not sure where? Are they something you are required to recite but you don’t really know what they mean – or even how to live them in your work?
Values fuel the passion that allows us to bring our work to life. It is the thing that resonates with us on a personal, emotional level that drives us to not only show up each day, but to be the best that we can be.
I beg you not just to talk about your organization’s core values. Write them down. Then put them everywhere. Posters on doors. Near the mailroom. In the lunchroom. On the elevator. At the entrance to the workplace. In offices. Front and center on your website and throughout your digital presence. It may sound like overload, but this will provide tangible evidence of what is valued in your organization. And heck, on our worst, busiest days having a visual reminder may just be the nugget that keeps us going.
Start every staff meeting and training session you have with a discussion about your values and how to live and practice it in your work. Make it real and operational. The more people can talk about how they are living their values, the more value they get out of their work.
Perhaps you are reading this and thinking: But I’ve got a talented group that seems to like coming to work and we don’t have this, so I don’t see why we need it.
First of all, I think you are lucky to have such a talented group of A+ people that are driven and seem happy. This exercise allows you to keep galvanizing that amazing group around the core values.
Secondly, see this as a way of establishing a sustainable culture of excellence within your organization. The amazing, talented group of driven people will not be there forever. Some will retire. Others may move on to other organizations or types of work. If you want to have a legacy of staff that are anchored in a set of shared values, this is a great way to do it.
Thirdly, it is rare for an organization nowadays to not change some of its services or offerings throughout the years. This may mean expansion. Can you carry your values through expansion? Will the values go away if the team you have is dismantled or reconfigured in any way? What if you have to downsize part of what you do…will the values survive if there are a smaller number of people involved?
Fourthly, you can recruit people who are a more natural fit for your awesome team if you can speak to the values that are important. People that are considering working with you know that there is a shared values set, and that those values drive the work.
Bring your passions to life in work by focusing on those core values. Write them down. Plaster them everywhere. Talk about them in staff meetings. Make them much more than just a token exercise and you’ll see the benefits.