The most misunderstood, misguided and misrepresented part of an organization’s core ideology is often the core values. These values, which often give lip service to such things as: “We respect each other as equals,” “We seek diversity and diverse points of view,” etc. rarely manifest themselves within the organization they are written for. Why? For one, exactly because they are “written for” an organization and not with the input of the employees but, equally important, it’s because the management team is not equipped with the tools, the coaching and the know-how to help all members of the organization live these values day in and day out.
Why do core values matter anyway? If they permeate an organization, core values can help with recruiting employees, retaining employees, attracting and retaining new customers and creating customer loyalty. It’s impossible to ignore the importance of these values. It must be said that every company HAS core values — they just may not be the ones the senior leadership team created!
There is no better example of a company living it’s core values than Starbucks. For anyone, facilitator or leader, attempting to create a set of core values and infuse them into the organization, I recommend reading the little book called How Starbucks Saved My Life, by Michael Gates Gill. This book provides a rare glimpse into a company that is actually living it’s values. I was amazed (and I think you will be to!) at how successfully Starbucks has created a culture of respect for each other, listening, and attention to the customer by bringing their core values to life in each and every store.
So, how does a facilitator or company/organization leader help leadership teams live their core values? Here’s a short list of tips I have learned along the way:
1) Gather input from the organization. Use an anonymous survey tool to find out where things are really at and how far away you are from the values you would like your organization to embody.
2) For each of the values, determine how committed the leadership team is to actually “living” that value day in and day out. Articulate what it means to “live” the value. Set aside those values that not everyone is willing to commit to.
3) Articulate what the organization will look like when all the values are being actively “lived” by all in the organization. Create a vivid description using picture and words to communicate your vision to the organization
4) Create and implement a communications plan so that every single person within the organization knows how they should live each of the values and what that means for their everyday interactions with co-workers, leadership and customers.
5) Set up a consistent reward and staffing structure. Reward ALL employees based on how effectively they convey the organization’s values. Hire only those people whose own values are congruent with the organizations.
This little book, How Starbucks Saved My Life, is a powerful depiction of the impact an organizations values can have on both the success of the overall entity and, even more importantly, the happiness of the employees who are out on the line serving customers.
Click on this link to see the core values of another successful company: Zappos
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