Throughout my years consulting on company culture, engagement, and patient experience, I have only encountered a few organizations that did not have stated values. In both cases, their CEOs dismissed values as “fluff.” After hearing that, it was clear they were not living company values, and it was no surprise that they sought help with culture, engagement, and patient experience.
Equally concerning are the organizations that establish solid-sounding values on paper but fail to operationalize them in daily life. Leaders of these organizations often believe that employees know the values, but they feel that living them is unrealistic. I disagree. The whole purpose of values is to guide behaviors during everyday interactions and decisions.
Other organizations feel that they’ve tried everything to get employees to embrace the values, without success. Your culture wasn’t shaped in a week, and it won’t be transformed quickly either. But, with proper planning, it can be done.
Finding the Root of the Problem
During a recent culture assessment, we found that many employees talked about the lack of accountability. Despite handbooks and codes of conduct, organizations often have the “chosen few” who are above the law, and do as they please. This is a culture issue and what you permit, you promote. Culture shift is a slow and steady process, but it will be far slower if employees see that the rules don’t apply to everyone.
There’s also often an issue with communication. Many employees and leaders alike claim to believe in the values, but they struggled to list them. When asked, they often quote the ad tagline or use random, aspirational terms. You can’t live up to values if you don’t know what they are. As much as leaders want to shift blame in this circumstance, this is a leadership and communications issue, not an employee issue.
The Solution: Living the Values
The most successful organizations engage employees and serve patients by aligning expected behaviors with stated values. Behavior-based standards make the values concrete, understandable, and observable. Once articulated, the most successful organizations make values and standards a way of life. This approach makes expectations clear and easier to sustain a consistent brand experience.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make your values into a living, breathing way of life, we’ll show you how. Contact us to learn more at (866) 686-7672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.