High Performance Culture: Critical Factor #2 Shared Values

To achieve a High Performance Culture, the company’s values must be shared by all employees. This is critical because most employees aren’t engaged with creating more widgets. They are engaged with an idea – no, an IDEAL. And that ideal is characterized in the business world in a company’s values. Those values must be understood by all, clearly and consistently communicated, and reinforced through recognition.

Management teams of most companies today have spent countless hours concisely defining their company’s values and honing the company’s mission into an ambition that inspires employees to achieve strategic goals. In reality, these values rarely escape the engraved plaque hanging on the wall. For a company’s values to have any impact on employee behavior and performance outcome, they must be understood in the same way by all employees regardless of position, division or geographic location.

To achieve this level of common understanding, the values must be clearly and consistently communicated. In many global corporations, this includes ensuring the meaning doesn’t get lost in translation or the importance diluted due to varied cultural norms. While the necessity of doing so is easily appreciated by company leaders, the task is complicated by the variability in communications skills from manager to manager, the infrequency of opportunities to demonstrate the values in a meaningful way, and the constant distraction of deadlines and other pressures.

Strategic recognition programs based on best practices incorporate a company’s values into the recognition process, previously discussed here. When all employee activities or behaviors nominated for recognition are tied to a company value, then at least two people – the nominator and the recipient – must think about the values during the process. If such nominations require approval, then even more people are reminded of the values. And if all recognitions within a set time period are then announced in a monthly team meeting, then entire teams or divisions will be reminded of the values and how to demonstrate and achieve them in everyday tasks. In large, globally distributed companies this is virtually the only way to make the company values come alive for every employee at all levels.

Can you recite your company’s values? More importantly, do you know why those values are important to your company leadership and necessary to achieve the company mission?

If you – or your team members – can’t answer these questions, you need to consider ways to bring your values to life.

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