Company values, too often, end up just being words on a website. But strong company values should serve as your north star that guide your company, your people, and are embedded in all facets of your organization. Whether you’re identifying your core values for the first time, or giving your founding values a facelift — it’s important to explore and strategize around how to actually bring them to life. This is typically done in three key areas: your leaders and managers, company communications, and programs and processes.
Leaders and Managers
Everyone in your organization has a responsibility for living your core values — but that commitment must first (and always!) be modeled and reinforced by leaders. Make sure that managers not only understand your core values, but how they align with the norms and behaviors of your company culture. For example, how do your values play a role in the way managers give feedback to their teams?
Another way you can activate your leaders and managers to champion your core values is to clearly align your values with stated people manager capabilities and expectations, 360 feedback reviews, and leadership team offsites. Identify not just core words, but core behaviors. Make sure to articulate three to five ways each core value typically shows up in an employee’s day-to-day. The more deeply ingrained your values are in the minds of your leaders and managers, the easier it will be to use these values as a north star when making business decisions and leading their people.
Your core values should be threaded through company-wide communications; this increases visibility and understanding of not only what the company’s values are, but how to live them on a daily basis. A great way to keep values top of mind through communications? Storytelling! You can do this by setting up a mechanism for people to nominate a team member who has recently demonstrated one of the company’s values in their work. You can also tap into your leaders and managers to look for an outstanding ‘core values story’ each month and create a larger campaign around it.
Another way to bring your company values to life is by having a strong graphic identity (see example of how we partnered with a leading global ingredients company on their core values). This will help your employees create a deeper connection with each value — and can be used in everything from company meetings to a welcome email for a new employee.
Programs and Processes
Your company culture is one of your biggest assets when attracting and retaining talent, and your values play a key role in this. Update the programs and processes that your people most frequently interact with to ensure they align with your values; this will ensure your values really show up in the day-to-day of your company culture. Here are a few places to make sure your core values are embedded:
- Recruiting & hiring documents
- Onboarding & offboarding
- Performance evaluations
- Recognition programs
- Engagement surveys
- Diversity, Equity & inclusion (DEI) practices
- Employee value proposition