Episode 18 – The Proof is in the Behavior

The Details

If asked whether or not their organization has a set of core values, many leaders would respond in the affirmative.  A smaller number could recite all or at least some of those values, as well as identify where those values could be found within the organization (i.e. company intranet, posted on the walls in their building, conference rooms, etc.).  We submit that even fewer leaders yet, if many at all, know what those values specifically mean to and within their organization.   

Organizations who have thrived on the heels of a values-based culture have clearly identified the behaviors which reflect adherence to those values.  The behaviors are evident in multiple facets of the organization starting possibly as early as the first encounter with a potential candidate for an open position.  These organizations have figured out how not only to make these values a significant part of how the organization operates, but in how employees perform, communicate, interact, make decisions, and resolve conflict.

The evidence of a thriving values-based culture can be easily seen both inside and outside of the organization.  It is noticeable to vendors and other stakeholders in the relationships which are built and maintained.  It is evidenced in the way members of the organization interact with customers and how they deliver on their products or services.  Much of the success associated with these organizations can be attributed to the fact that culture was deemed a priority.  The details of it were specifically drafted, frequently taught, and strictly enforced.  Finally, employees in these organizations have bought into the culture.  They hold themselves accountable when their behavior doesn’t align with the values and are unafraid to call out their peers when similar behavior is displayed.  Such behavior might even be discussed and/or measured in performance appraisals. 

If asked whether or not their organization has a set of core values, many leaders would respond in the affirmative.  A smaller number could recite all or at least some of those values, as well as identify where those values could be found within the organization (i.e. company intranet, posted on the walls in their building, conference rooms, etc.).  We submit that even fewer leaders yet, if many at all, know what those values specifically mean to and within their organization.   

Organizations who have thrived on the heels of a values-based culture have clearly identified the behaviors which reflect adherence to those values.  The behaviors are evident in multiple facets of the organization starting possibly as early as the first encounter with a potential candidate for an open position.  These organizations have figured out how not only to make these values a significant part of how the organization operates, but in how employees perform, communicate, interact, make decisions, and resolve conflict.

The evidence of a thriving values-based culture can be easily seen both inside and outside of the organization.  It is noticeable to vendors and other stakeholders in the relationships which are built and maintained.  It is evidenced in the way members of the organization interact with customers and how they deliver on their products or services.  Much of the success associated with these organizations can be attributed to the fact that culture was deemed a priority.  The details of it were specifically drafted, frequently taught, and strictly enforced.  Finally, employees in these organizations have bought into the culture.  They hold themselves accountable when their behavior doesn’t align with the values and are unafraid to call out their peers when similar behavior is displayed.  Such behavior might even be discussed and/or measured in performance appraisals. 

There are many benefits to implementing a values-based culture over a rules-based culture.  Yet, many organizations fail to go beyond simply selecting the values they feel are important to them.  The result is a stark contrast between the culture they feel the should or want to have versus the one that actually exists.  We urge leaders to put the time in to define what your values look like and mean to your organization.  Additionally, we encourage you to set the tone by displaying these behaviors and recognizing/praising similar behavior in others.  Once leadership shows that culture, and more specifically a values-based culture, is a priority to them, it will become a priority to other members within the organization as well.