Everyone Believes: Core Values-Based Action

Everyone Believes: Core Values-Based Action

Core Values: Flourishing or Floundering?

Shared core values and the integration of an organization’s value system into all of its people touchpoints is a critical piece of an organization’s people puzzle because – as the humanworks8 philosophy states – Everyone Believes. Everyone takes action based on their beliefs. Values are at the foundation of an organization and at the heart of an individual.

Organizations can flourish when the focus and actions happening inside are supported by its core values. Organizations can flounder when values are undiscovered, unclear, and unlived. 

Does your organization have core values that are living and breathing within each individual, each decision, and each action? Or does your organization have values that live on a plaque in the executive conference room? If it’s the latter, you’re not alone, but are you open to feedback on those values? You might think those conference room values are great words that sound professional, and we don’t disagree that they stand for good things, but the reality is – According to Gallup, just 23% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization’s values to their work, and only 27% strongly agree that they “believe in” those values.

Values Across Your Humanscape

An organization must elevate their current value words and statements or discover them anew through a process of conversation and storytelling. Stop reading this post immediately to find yours right now if you don’t know them by heart. Keep them in front of you so you can align them to the points below and elevate them both in meaning and in application across your humanscape.

What’s a humanscape? It’s a way of thinking about your culture at work – not a landscape as you view the world outside, but rather a humanscape in your organization that is built around how you purposefully take action around foundational elements of your culture – starting with core values.

Your core values should inspire others and make them say I want to work there, I want to be a part of that. That’s the new humanscape you are trying to create and evolve to at your organization. Core values are not for display in a board room or PowerPoint presentation – they are to be lived and acted on in every role, every job, every team – every day.

During a time of tough talent shortages and difficult challenges in engaging and acquiring new employees – values-based cultures have the upper hand and have shown to be more successful in reaching new talent. And during a time of marketplace volatility, values-based cultures bring your organization’s employment and customer brand story to life and ensure sustainability — they demonstrate a company’s interest in things beyond money. This can keep teams performing at a high level, even during temporary declines in revenue. Connecting more employees to the organization’s core values has been proven to lower absenteeism, fewer safety incidents and improvements in overall quality.

Elevating Core Values Language

Nine times out of 10, an organization’s values are a list of words that are rather ordinary business words such as: Integrity, Leadership, Innovation, and Sustainability. Sometimes a new word pops up like: Inspiration. Did you know over 50% of Fortune 500 companies have Integrity as one of their core values? In fact, the top 5 core values for Fortune 500 companies are Integrity, Teamwork, Innovation, Customer Service, and Respect. You can’t say no to any of those words, but you can discover how your organization does them in your unique way, and that’s where the magic is…

Ask yourself: Do these words stir up passion and make you want to commit to working there? Do they sound unique, or do they sound like you could be working anywhere, with anyone, in any industry?

Today, those words are just not enough.

So how do you get there?  How do you either elevate your current language or discover new values language? How do you create your unique core values that aren’t like anyone else’s and are felt the moment you enter your organizational headquarters or meet anyone on any team.

How do you begin changing the humanscape of your business? Why should you want to?

  • Do you want to attract, engage, and retain top talent?
  • Do you want to build commitment and energy toward your organization’s purpose and goals?
  • Do you want it all to make sense?

If you answered with a resounding yes, keep reading for some core values insights to help you think differently about this concept.

Remember, if Everyone Believes – you must give them something to believe in, which allows them as a member of your organization to rally around and align to their own personal values.

Standards for Core Values

In humanworks8’s methodology, we have three standards that strong core values must live up to:

  1. They must be gutsy – Authentic. Individuals must feel them within your walls or on Zoom calls, getting a sensory reaction to them.
  2. They must be unique, using words and language that is unlike anyone else.
  3. They must be active – Something you can do. Team members need to know how to do them.

What values should not be:

  1. Table stakes. Bottom lines. Permission to play. Values that – no matter the business – you would never hire or retain someone without. One example of those words is integrity. It’s a great word, but would you ever hire or keep someone who did not have it? Of course not. Your values should not be something everyone at every workplace everywhere should be.
  2. Occasional or only applicable to a few. Core values are never exclusionary – they should always apply to everyone in any role at your organization. Caution: A word like innovative can apply to certain teams in a company, but not be expected from everyone. A core value should not be something you only need to be sometimes and in certain situations.
  3. Aspirational. Core values are what and who you are, not what you want or wish to be sometime in the future because it sounds good. People will know right away if your values are not true and alive in your organization.  Have you ever heard work/life balance as a company core value? We have, and we asked how do you achieve that? The reply – We don’t. Then it’s not a value, but maybe it’s something you are focusing on navigating from a well-being perspective.

Lastly, an organization’s core values absolutely must address these three things. At humanworks8, we refer to these as The Indispensables.

  1. The Life. Core Values must include your cultural belief around The Life of the unique individuals who bring your company to life. How do you honor them? How do you give them the freedom to be themselves? How do you honor their uniqueness?
  2. The Breath. Core Values must include your cultural belief around The Breath. What is your cultural belief around the well-being of every life? How do you focus on keeping each and every pulse strong?
  3. The Touch. Core Values must include your cultural belief around The Touch. Who are you trying to touch and impact in the world?

This is where organizations have created a cultural humanscape beyond compare. Check out some values examples from humanworks8 clients.

Values-Based Action Across The People Touchpoints

Are gutsy, unique, and active core values enough?

…Not on their own. You must consider how to incorporate your new values across the humanscape of your business, The 12 People Touchpoints. Consider how core values can better bring these elements alive, connect everything and make everything make sense to an employee:

  1. Communication – How does your organization communicate internally to employees and externally to candidates, partners and customers?
  2. DEI & Belonging – How does your organization attract, welcome and honor individuals of diverse beliefs and backgrounds?
  3. Offboarding – How does your organization exit employees, plan for transitions and engage alumni?
  4. Orientation and Onboarding – How does your organization engage employees in their first 90 days and beyond?
  5. Performance Management – How does your organization assess, redirect and enhance employee performance and growth?
  6. Processes & Policies – How does your organization follow documented approaches to frontstage and backstage business practices and set guidelines and expectations for employee behavior?
  7. Recognition – How does your organization celebrate employees who live company values, surpass success criteria and effect positive change?
  8. Strategy & Planning – How does your organization lay out its vision and action plan, creating a clear line of sight that connects each person’s work to organizational milestones?
  9. Surveying – How does your organization collect feedback from every employee and take action in a way that values perspectives and addresses opportunities?
  10. Talent Discovery & Optimization – How does your organization discover, attract and hire new talent aligned with company values and the affective, cognitive and conative needs of each role?
  11.  Training & Development – How does your organization develop employees and measure the success of growth and learning opportunities at all levels?
  12. Well-Being – How does your organization prioritize individual well-being and enable employees to be their best selves at work, at home and at play?

New core values language and these 12 Touchpoints create the vision of how core values can bring a culture to life, and everyone within it “speaking with one voice.”

Listen to this post in podcast form in episode three of the Culture(&) Podcast, part of the GGG Unleashed series, and subscribe to hear more about workplace culture and leadership.