Five essential steps to cement values in your company culture

In our ever-changing world, values provide organisations with much-needed direction and predictability

Five essential steps to cement values in your company culture

With nearly half of employees (42%)  wanting to work for an organisation that has a positive impact on the world, individuals are actively seeking out values-led cultures. When employee and organisation values are aligned, we often see increased innovation, collaboration and wellbeing. Thus improving productivity and fostering an innate sense of belongingness and purpose. 

To establish a strong company culture, effective leaders must demonstrate consistency. By using the values of the organisation as a guide to their decision-making processes, employees are provided with a clear framework for expectations, behaviours and roles. But how can leaders establish their organisation’s values and build upon them a positive and inclusive company culture? There are five key elements required for a truly value-led culture. 

Understand what your desired culture looks like 

Before embarking on any cultural change, a leader’s first port-of-call is to reflect on their own values and intrinsic mission. The behaviours, values and mindset of the leadership team are key determinants of the wider company culture, so need to be understood on an individual level before embarking on collaborative goals. 

When coming together to establish a desired organisational culture, leaders should consider cognitive diversity, wider stakeholders, individual empowerment, and psychological safety. In fact, many organisations seek support from external organisations to help them establish their desired culture before they embark on embedding it throughout the organisation.

Communicate your vision

Once the desired culture is agreed, communicating your vision amongst current and prospective employees is key. A mission statement displayed across multiple channels is a useful tool to help both internal and external stakeholders understand expected behaviours, however this is meaningless without proactive accompanying actions. Leaders are integral to role modelling the desired actions as the culture starts, and stops, with them. Regular reminders should be shared with teams, as well as actions aligning with the values celebrated and toxic or challenging behaviours held accountable. 

Evaluating the impact 

Only when the culture is established can you assess the impact on individuals. When the world is constantly changing, it is essential leaders continuously measure whether their culture continues to be fit for purpose. To ensure the desired culture aligns with the organisation’s goals, effective leaders will establish metrics and key performance indicators. This might include introducing satisfaction surveys or exit interviews as well as other leading indicators, such as retention rates or team morale. If either of these are demonstrating warning signs, it is highly likely the organisational culture is a contributing factor and requires immediate attention.

Seek honest feedback

A considerable part of assessing the cultural impact is seeking feedback from stakeholders. From reinforcing interpersonal relationships to increased motivation and engagement, the act of seeking honest feedback has many individual as well as cultural benefits, yet is not often prioritised by leaders. In fact, a survey from OfficeVibe found that 40% of employees feel actively disengaged from their work when they receive little or no feedback.

There are many different ways that feedback about a company culture can be obtained, including focus groups, surveys, one-on-ones and team discussions. This feedback will help leaders to understand the company culture from the employee perspective and increase employee trust, but only if this feedback is actually acknowledged and acted upon. 

For this feedback to be most useful, it is essential employees have the psychological safety to be completely honest. Offering named and anonymous feedback opportunities can support this. 

Reflecting on your own growth and development 

As leaders build their values-led culture, it is also vital that they continue to prioritise their own personal development. Without this reflection, misalignment can quickly set in between the individual and the organisation’s desired behaviours. Investing in your emotional intelligence and communication skills are all important aspects of personal development and can be enhanced by reading relevant books, listening to podcasts and watching videos.

Cementing a values-led company culture is not a ‘one and done’ task. To set an organisational culture up for success, first you need to understand what your desired culture looks like before communicating this with the team. By seeking constant feedback, leaders can evaluate the impact of the culture and reflect on their personal growth and development to ensure the company culture they are creating catalyses a happy and productive team.

Judith Germain
Judith Germain

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