Values, Brands and Cultures – Making the Connection Real

core valuesI know that many companies have articulated and defined their Core Values. They make sincere attempts to live those Values. Sometimes their efforts are continuous, sometimes sporadic or situational. Too often their efforts typically yield mixed results. Why is that?

Here’s a big part of the answer.

Leaders typically assume that Values are an unconscious part of why people behave and perform the way they do and, accordingly, those Values are buried in the body of results obtained. That practice, in turn, shifts management’s focus to quantifiable performance metrics. How one lives her/his Values are not extracted and examined separately. Values are only extracted when major crises arise or when significant decisions must be made. Therefore people are not directly held accountable for living the Values every day, expressed in how they interact with others, both inside and outside of the organization; but just for the quantifiable results they are charged with achieving. Living the organization’s Values is just assumed into reality.

You cannot build and sustain a Values conscious culture unless everyone in the organization is measured and held accountable for living the stated Values on a daily basis. To do that, you must develop and document the criteria needed to include how well one lives your cultural Values as a stand-alone element of every performance review. People that fail to meet those criteria must be held accountable. That can take the form of reduced performance bonuses, reduced salary increases, delays in promotions and, if the problems persist with no improvements over a mutually understood period of time – dismissal.

The flip side of punishment is, of course, coaching. Coaching people in how to adopt and live your Values is both doable and cost effective. People who live your Values are always better Brand Ambassadors. And better Brand Ambassadors will help strengthen your Brand and improve your bottom line.

Finally, you must include Values in your hiring criteria and reject candidates that, regardless of their experience and abilities, do not share your organization’s Values.

No matter how sincere you are in making your organization Values conscious, you cannot achieve results without measurable accountability. And you cannot achieve accountability without extracting and separately measuring how well people live your Values.

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