3 min read
02 Mar

In this blog post we'll explore how leaders can effectively build a culture based on the shared beliefs enshrined in their organization's code or vision statement so that everyone involved will become aligned with common goals wrapped in expectations around how everyday work should be done – setting everyone up for success.

What is a Values-Based Culture and Why Does It Matter to Leaders

As leaders, values-based cultures are our biggest asset. By fully embracing and committing to a set of values that guide our decisions, teams and operations can reap the rewards of improved business performance and help ensure everyone is on the same page. It’s about taking a top-down approach, where values are embedded in everything from recruitment and selection to promotion and team dynamics. 

When values become part of the organizational landscape, they help shape how work gets done and how people interact. Even better, values can serve as powerful motivators for employees who share a mission – the higher purpose associated with their work. 

Ultimately, values-based cultures give us an edge over competitors– resulting in satisfied employees, successful customers, engaged stakeholders and profitable business results. 

Defining Your Company's Core Values

Defining your company's core values is an important exercise that all business leaders should complete. Core values define the culture of a business, making them the foundation for all decisions, behaviors, and employee engagement. To define your company's core values, take a moment to reflect on the essence of what you do and what you stand for. Then define key words that capture meaning - like integrity, passion for customer service, or innovation - to create guiding principles and expected behaviors around which all employees can rally. 

With clear core values in place, companies have the ability to maximize positive working environments and ensure their staff are always empowered to make choices in line with their beliefs. 

Establishing Expectations for Employees' Behaviors

As a business leader, it is your duty to set expectations for behaviors amongst employees in order to ensure a company culture that is aligned with core values. Establishing expectations can be accomplished in various ways - such as communication or policy making. 

Whatever your method may be, expectations set the foundation necessary to build and maintain a culture of open and honest communication where expectations are known, expectations align with values, and expectations serve as the guiding force for your employees' behaviors. 

Modeling the Way with Internal Communications

To lead a successful business, leaders need to set the tone and lead by example. This can be done by displaying behavior and communicating in alignment with the company’s core values. It’s one thing to tell people what you expect from them; it's another to lead the way. True leadership involves proactively modeling the expected behaviors and engaging in conversations that demonstrate the values of the organization. 

Leaders must lead and communicate with purpose, knowing that their words, actions, and decisions will affect how employees think, behave and engage with each other. By consistently bringing company values into day-to-day practices, leaders can lead from within to inspire a fully engaged workforce. 

Assessing Employees' Performance Against Core Values

In order to ensure that employees are held accountable and responsible for their performance against core values, there needs to be thoughtful consideration of how performance is evaluated. Business leaders must ensure that performance assessments consider employee performance relative to organizational values, thereby promoting a culture steeped in these expectations of performance from each staff member. 

Furthermore, performance reviews should include tangible examples of where employees have demonstrated these values through action or results. In this way, business leaders can foster an organizational culture rooted in upholding the company's core values via meaningful performance evaluations. 

Recognizing High Performers Who Uphold Core Values

Praising employees for sticking to the established mindset of your organization increases overall morale and productivity. It is essential, then, to have effective recognition systems that recognize and reward outstanding performance from individuals who share your vision. Knowing that their hard work and loyalty will be acknowledged for expressing the same shared values provides an incentive for employees to strive for excellence. 

In Summary

Reinforcing and living by a company's core values is more important than ever for leaders. Values-based cultures help communicate the identity of an organization and allow members to connect with an overarching potential for growth. Implementing core values at companies should involve all teams, from leadership down to employees across departments. Leaders can create a shared understanding of responsibilities and personal expectations, bringing success to both individuals and teams in their organizations. 

Through reflection of the blog post's main points on what is a values-based culture, defining core values, setting expectations, modeling behavior via internal communications, assessing performance against core values, and recognizing excellent performers who embody these values - one can easily see how a well-formed culture can lead to prosperity in business initiatives. 

For a current real-world example, listen to Carole Hackett, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Tom Vernon, Chief Experience Officer, at Houston Methodist in podcast episode 147. Here they discuss methodologies on how creating successful value-based cultures can help bring success long term in your own organization.