Walking the Talk – Steps organizations need to take to convert core values into tangible behaviors
In most organizations, core values are plastered across the walls of the workplace with the belief that it can help in building a strong team foundation and an equally strong organization culture. However, just talking about the core values of the organization or expecting employees to start imbibing these values in their everyday work practices by simply reading them, is least likely to provide the desired results. It is important for organizations to take the necessary steps and develop effective strategies to ensure that their core values are converted into tangible employee behaviors.
Need to align employee behavior with core values
The core values of an organization help in establishing the moral code which its workforce must abide. They represent the beliefs that are most important to the way a organization operates and how it is perceived by its customers, employees and business partners. Since employees act as the representatives of an organization, it is important for them to display behavior and attitude that is reflective of key organization values. In addition to helping in sending out a positive message about the organization, the value-based behavior of employees also makes it easier for its management to measure and manage the organization standards.
The sad truth
Despite understanding the significance of aligning their core values with the behavior of their employees, most organizations fail to take any concrete steps to ensure the same. In fact, the best that organizations do is to include these values in their website career page and new hire handbooks. However, in order to ensure that the values become an integral part of their organizational culture and employee behavior, it is important to provide specific guidelines and develop appropriate strategies for achieving this objective. Organizations that ignore the need to offer guidance and promote value-based culture and behavior are responsible for ingraining wrong values in their employees which over time become a part of their personalities. In such organizations, a negative culture becomes commonplace that thrives on cutting corners, placing the blame on others and operating in a secretive manner. This, in turn, impacts the behavior of the employees and creates a wrong image of the organization.
Taking the necessary corrective measures
In order to avoid the aforementioned consequences of the gap between core organization values and employee behavior, it is important for organizations to take the necessary corrective measures at the earliest. They need to take control and shape their employee behavior from day one by integrating these values into their HR strategy. At the same time, they need to work towards developing the organization policies in a manner that makes it easier for the members of the workforce to imbibe these values in their everyday working. Rather than leaving the values open for interpretation or inscribed on paper as words, organizations need to follow the values with prospective actions and requisite behaviors. Discussed below are some useful steps that can help organizations to align employee behavior with core values:
Choose values that are relevant to the organization
Core values should be at the heart of every business process and should make employees feel special about working for the organization in question. Such values are those that make the employees work for the organization as if they own it, make them raises the bar on the quality and efficiency of their work, or even develop an attitude of gratitude while interacting with each other or with the customers.
Hire, promote, reward, and fire employees based on core values
As mentioned before, core values should form an integral part of the HR policy of an organization. This essentially means that the decisions about all new recruitments, employee promotions and even firing specific members of the workforce should be based on these values. Adopting such an approach helps the employees to understand the significance of developing a value-based behavior and contribute towards building a strong organizational culture.
Communicate and support the key values
The responsibility of communicating the core values of an organization to the individual members of the workforce lies with the senior management team. They need to ensure that they talk about these values every time they interact with their juniors. Moreover, they actually need to live these values to make sure that the employees also integrate them into their everyday working and behavior.
Encourage collective enforcement
One effective way to help employees develop behavior based on core organization values is by rewarding such behaviors. In fact, employee rewards systems should focus on rewarding behaviors that are in alignment with the key values of the organization and motivate others to copy such behaviors. Acknowledging and appreciating such behavior ensures its collective enforcement across all levels in an effective manner.
Following the above steps can help organizations to convert their core values into tangible employee behavior rather than them just being office punchlines.