Have you ever wondered if your employees would respond to a situation in the same manner as if YOU were doing it yourself?  For instance, a potential client requests favors outside of standard practices?  Or perhaps an opportunity to withhold information presents itself but doing so would mislead investors?

A company’s success hinges on knowing that their employees’ actions are consistent with the culture and values of the organization.  However, companies often overlook the importance of defining their culture and values.

What are Your Company’s Culture and Values?

All companies have a culture, whether it has been intentionally cultivated or evolved on its own.  According to Merriam-Webster, Culture is defined as: “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization.”  Companies gamble if they do not take the time to define their company culture and values.  When culture and values are not clearly defined, communicated, and inculcated in the organization, decisions and actions can be destructive.

Culture and Values Can Sabotage An Organization

The news is filled with blatant examples of where decisions are made void of having a healthy culture and values.  In September, 2015, a company owner, Stewart Parnell, faced life in prison for knowingly distributing poisonous peanut paste.  Defense attempted to portray Parnell as a small-business owner who was scapegoated by the government. Parnell’s attorneys argued that Parnell did not know about mismanagement at the plant, that he was the fall guy for other employees’ wrongdoing.

Left unmanaged, a company’s culture and values can evolve into something undesirable and sabotage a growing company.  It’s short-sighted to assume that a desirable culture and values can be sustained without effort.  Rather it starts with the leadership and requires the entire organization to take it on.

How to Keep a Culture and Values Alive

No matter what your company is working on, there’s nothing more important than establishing your company culture and values.  Otherwise there’s a risk that future decisions and actions can take you off course.

Simple steps to take:

  1. Define Desired Culture and Values: This starts with the Leadership Team declaring and be aligned on the culture and values. It’s imperative that the leadership consistently walks the walk, and talks the talk.
  2. Understand Current State: Take the pulse of what your employees see is the existing culture and values.  Do an anonymous survey to get valuable feedback.  Make sure to share feedback and have the employees develop action plans.
  3. Communicate: Continually reinforce the desired Culture and Values.  Publicly acknowledge and recognize when employees demonstrate a challenging time and took the high road.  And just as important, take action right away to coach someone that takes inconsistent actions.  Otherwise, poor behavior can multiply.
  4. RightFit: Insure new hires will thrive in your culture.  Along with knowing the skills and experience of a candidate, be clear on their behaviors, workplace motivators, drivers, and approach to their work.  You can get a sense of a person through behavioral interviews.  However, multi-science assessments provide powerful insight.
  5. Don’t Be Short-Sighted: Looking at results alone, can be blinding.  Rewarding results that are achieved by those who demonstrate undesirable values, ultimately destroy.  Promoting employees based on results without taking into account how they got the results is short-sighted.  Include core values in performance reviews sends a strong message.

Your company’s ability to have sustainable growth and consistently beat the competition, depends on the strength of the foundation.  No matter the size, longevity and industry, make certain that your culture and values are clearly understood by all and are living and breathing in your company today.