Recognize This! – Values are a powerful base for company culture, but only when they’re real in the daily work.

How do you create a culture in which employees are passionately working to their strengths while being resolutely focussed on achieving your strategic objectives? With your company values. Best Buy did it, explaining it this way:

    “Employees are encouraged to use their strengths and follow their passions to drive the business. As you can imagine, that leads to a highly decentralized environment, but it works because we have a ‘true north,’ which is the company’s values. When we’re talking about internal branding and employee engagement — convincing employees to learn, love and live the brand — the values really do hold us together.”

Establishing the base for that culture is ultimately the responsibility of the CEO, none who exemplify it better than Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of the US Fund for Unicef:

    “We wrote corporate values as an organization. We changed the evaluation forms so you are not only measured on your productivity and performance but on how you work. …You could be the best fund-raiser in the world, but if I’m hearing from your colleagues or your boss or those who work for you that you don’t treat others respectfully, that you are dismissive, then you’re not going to work for me.”

That’s right. You have to not only be willing to encourage, recognize and reward people based on your values; you have to be willing to fire them, too. But it’s unfair to do either unless your employees clearly understand both what the values are and how to live them in their daily work. That’s the role of strategic recognition – frequent, timely, very specific and detailed recognition of every action, behaviour achievement that demonstrates a company value. If you’re going to bring your company values to life, do it through the work.

What’s the benefit of getting this right? Modern Survey reports the number one practice that contributes to higher engagement scores is having a clear set of company values most employees know and understand.

Do you have a list of company values? Do you know what those mean in your daily work? Does the average employee? How do you think your company would change if the vast majority of employees truly lived the values?

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