Mean Business With Your Values

October 23, 2023
Sandy Epperson
Compass with red tipped needle pointing toward words Core Values on compass face

As I was speaking with a colleague the other day about her recent job interview, I was reminded of the important opportunity of introducing and reinforcing company values to both candidates and employees.  She relayed to me that the executive she interviewed with made it a point early on in their conversation to highlight the company’s values and detail how they were truly guiding principles of their operations.  How impressive!  She commented that she had been through several interviews in her career and couldn’t recall company values being discussed by the interviewer. 

Establishing and communicating a set of company values plays a pivotal role in helping employees comprehend a bigger purpose guiding their work behaviors.  Values that speak to how management and employees treat one another and how customers and other stakeholders are treated by the business gets to the very heart of whether the workplace culture is functional to serve in attracting, motivating, and retaining employees.  Further, values speak to prospective and current customers as to whether there’s an intention to do the right thing on the part of the business – a publicized message that could serve as a competitive advantage.

Whether the organization has 3 employees or 3,000, it has a workplace culture.  Absent adequate communication and accountability to values, the culture may be left to chance – defined by whatever behaviors become the established norm in the organization.  Rapidly growing companies are more susceptible to cultures going astray if the workforce vanguard is not diligent about communicating and modelling values to employees early and often.  In addition to shaping culture, values importantly serve as a compass to ward off weak moral behavior that may lead an organization down a path to potential legal issues.  Getting the picture?

So, how would your organization answer the following questions?

Does your organization discuss values . . .

During interviews?

    • Sharing these values during an interview can send a very positive message to the candidate that the company is serious about guidelines of conduct and behavior for all to practice.  It conveys the employer’s desire to function with a professional work environment and signals to candidates who desire to operate in a dissimilar manner, they may not be a good fit.

During new employee onboarding?

      • Once hired, it’s the best time to review and reinforce the values. Specific details of conduct and behavior that is accepted and expected brings needed context to help new hires effectively navigate daily interactions and performance of work.

During training, company events and team meetings?

  • These are typically ready-made opportunities to keep the set of company values in the forefront as a reminder to current employees. It is a time for work groups, or the organization as a whole, to hear the business leader deliver the same message at the same time.

During your check-ins and performance conversations with your people managers and other employees?

    • Are values ingrained in your feedback model? How are individual employees doing with upholding and demonstrating company values in their roles?   What challenges or obstacles do they experience that is incongruent with the values?  Are those employees who don’t uphold the values of the business dealt with appropriately?

During recognition events?

    • Tying company values to rewarded accomplishments and achievements of employees creates direct linkage to desired conduct and behavior.

During exit meetings

    • asking departing employees if they are aware of any conduct or behavior within the organization that goes against the company values and ethics can sometimes elicit very insightful feedback which may necessitate follow-up action.

Words hanging on an office wall or written in the employee handbook but are not embodied in behaviors of all employees at all levels of the organization are simply not effective in guiding workplace conduct aligned with the values.   Companies should seize on the opportunity to leverage well-crafted and communicated values in pursuit of a truly positive and professional work culture. 

Take time today to examine where you are with your organization’s values – do they need created, revised, or perhaps there are openings to better communicate your values through the employee life cycle?  It will serve the business well!

On Course HR can assist organizations of all sizes with drafting or updating values as well as solutions for better integrating values into the workplace culture.