So let us say you have nailed down the right values. What now? If they are going to really take hold in your organization, your core values need to be integrated into every employee-related process hiring methods, performance management systems, criteria for promotions and rewards, and even dismissal policies. From the first interview to the last day of work, employees should be constantly reminded that core values form the basis for every decision the company makes.
After a company has embedded its values into its systems, it should promote those values at every turn. It is been said that employees will not believe a message until they have heard it repeated by executives seven times. Given the cynicism surrounding values these days, executives would do well to repeat them every chance they get.
Many companies publicize their values on T-shirts and coffee mugs, but the most effective mechanisms are far simpler and less expensive. Consider how Nordstrom, a well-known example of a values-driven organization, constantly reminds employees of its core value of customer service. During orientation, rather than receiving a detailed handbook describing how to deliver great service to customers, new employees are told elaborate stories recounting the lengths fellow employees have gone to in order to wow clientele. And during non-store hours, managers can read customer comments, both positive and negative, over the intercom so that employees can hear firsthand how they are doing.
When employees have come up with new ways to provide excellent service to customers, for instance, they are been rewarded with cash and other forms of public recognition.
Given all the hard work that goes into developing and implementing a solid values system, most companies would probably prefer not to bother. And indeed they should not, because poorly implemented values can poison a company’s culture.
Make no mistake: Living by stated corporate values is difficult. After all, it is much harder to be clear and unapologetic for what you stand for than to cave in to politically correct pressures. And for organizations trying to repair the damage caused by bad values programs, the work is even harder. But if you are willing to devote your time and energy to creating an authentic values statement, there is a good chance that the resulting values will stand your company in.