Think of the values you and your organization hold dear. They could be things like: “Be creative”, or “Be transparent”, or even “Treat each other with respect”. Core values are the guiding lights within organizations – we know their importance. 
So why is it so hard to develop or even pinpoint them? Well, as the old adage goes, what we can’t see is hard to define, measure, or move.
For me, values are quite the opposite. Values in fact are very evident – they are the things that people are innately displaying through their behaviours and choice.
But the thing about values is that, as Harvard Business Review points out, “they have to be authentic.” In other words, we can be inspired to declare what our values can look like – but they will only be bought into, accepted, and enacted on when they feel real.
I work with clients and leaders to enhance and evolve their culture. The Culture Evolution Plan is a method I’ve developed to understand, evaluate, and monitor workplace culture. Values are at the core of this plan.
How are people working together? How are people showing up? Are they placing blame or making excuses? Or, are they building each other up and supporting a collaborative and forward-looking environment?
Culture, then, is very much the how we do and values move the needle.
Values are the foundation of a workplace – in other words, they’re the building blocks because they drive behaviours and decisions. And there are two types:
  1. Espoused values: publicly declared and documented in writing
  2. Enacted values: the ones that guide the day-to-day behaviour of people and decision making within the company.
Which of the two are most important, you ask?
They’re both important. But the most important of the two are enacted values. This describes what is really happening, not what you would like to see happen.
And note: the minute values feel contrived is the minute people will check out. Here’s why: people want to work for an organization that does what it says and says what it means. If behaviours are disconnected from a declaration, then engagement suffers. Bottom line.
By focusing on aligning values, leaders have the ripe opportunity to remind and inspire their teams of what drives great work. Spend time communicating the ideal states of being and then communicate it again. And don’t forget – when you see greatness in action, remember to immediately pause and recognize great demonstration of values in motion.
Getting the whole notion around corporate values right isn’t hard. Instead, it just takes mindful practice to keep reminding people and then recognizing outcomes.
In my debut book, Rules of Engagement, I talk about Purposeful Workplace Experiences (PWE). At its core, it’s the optimal climate a leader can create that will drive alignment between an individual and their organization.
This pinnacle state can only be achieved when clear and consistent communication happens repeatedly. People need to be aware of what’s expected and leaders need to know what’s really happening in the workplace.
By talking about values in the workplace, you can build trust and keep your culture on track, then the rest is yours for the taking. Let me know your thoughts below. How do you bring values to life within your workplace every day? Share your feedback in the comments below.