Do You Walk the Talk? How to Practically Implement Organizational Values
Nowadays, a growing number of organizations have their own declared values. These values appear on the company’s website and are probably even written on a sign in the office lobby. As managers, when standing at an influential crossroad, we should first ask ourselves: “What is the value of the value that we declare?"
Presenting such a value as something we believe in, while in practice, the company’s actions or our own behaviors do not match it (or even worse, contradict it) might be harmful and even life-threatening for an organization. Imagine how an employee would feel when their employer defines the value 'Transparency' as an organizational value when the organization is run without any actual transparency in front of employees or customers. For another example, imagine how a client would feel towards an organization that declares diversity, while in reality, the employees and the company’s marketing language completely contrast that.
A company's values chosen and declared must correspond with its own actions, behaviors, and organizational culture. The values are meant to guide the organization’s leadership and employees through strategic and decision-making processes in front of all stakeholders.
A major element in the Doing Good Model (DGM) is the three dimensions of implementation:Being Believing, Doing. Does a value we believe in reflect our actions as an organization, and is it expressed in our being or our organizational culture?
When all these three dimensions coexist in harmony regarding a certain value, there is an implementation of that value in the organization. To hold that value, believing in it is not enough — it has to be promoted in front of the relevant stakeholders, employees, and the organization as a whole so that the same value would become part of the organizational being.
So how do we practically do that on a daily basis?
Here are four steps to follow to implement a ‘walk the talk’ mindset:
1. Define the value
When we accompany organizations in different processes, we examine the implementation of their values and walk them through the various steps. First, we will want to help the organization explain its values to everyone involved — together, we'll define the values' essence and core meaning within the organization. For instance, if one of your chosen values is 'Honor & Decency,' we will ask: “What is the meaning of honor and decency for your organization?” “How do you as an organization see and explain these values, and how does it manifest in practice?” This definition helps you act according to that value, as it will serve as an explanation and a reference for your wanted behaviors and procedures across the organization.
2. Map the relevant stakeholders
Once we create definitions for the values, we ask who the relevant stakeholders are needed to implement every value effectively? So, if we choose the value ‘Honor & Decency,’ for example, we should examine who is most relevant for you to work with regarding that specific value. Is it your customers? Suppliers? Employees? The community you live in or the environment around you?
3. Decide on desirable actions for each value
We examine how we can implement the value in cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders at this stage. Here we will think about your wanted behaviors as a person and as an organization to assure meaningful and authentic implementation of the value. Continuing our example of 'Honor & Decency,' we will ask questions such as: "What do you need to do to ensure honor and decency are kept for all of your stakeholders?" "How can you implement the value of 'Honor & Decency' effectively?", "What are the steps you need to take, and what decisions do you need to enforce to ensure that happens?"
4. Set objectives and measures for success
After the initial brainstorming stage and once we have various ideas on implementing the organizational values, we will focus on identifying and defining objectives. Together we'll want to come up with a realistic time frame, measures of success, and key performance indicators (KPIs), which will help you know that you succeeded in implementing every value.
Who should you involve in the process? As part of the model, we believe in a “we are one” mentality. Therefore, we recommend involving as many employees as possible when thinking about organizational value implementation. This kind of approach that combines Top-Down with Bottom-Up planning with management leading the process on one side and employees involved in the implementation on the other can contribute to more empowerment, better connection, and meaningful volunteering.
An organization's core values are those that are really implemented in it, dictating its operations, actions, workflows, and being. They serve as a compass that guides you forward and helps to answer important questions such as: “How should we act and what is the most accurate thing to do?” As managers, you need to lead the process of examining core values and the ways of actively implementing them, but at the same, involve your employees in the process. This can create significant meaning and connection to the organization, and as a result, expand the influence of doing good both inside the organization and with your external stakeholders.
We believe that defining vision and values sincerely and authentically is essential in any organization, size, and industry. On its base, we can make companies flourish in a financial, human-centric, and social way.
“Values are things with a ‘price’ that bind those who hold them to give up slogans and cliches. They bind them to put in the effort and be willing to pay the price. He who cannot pinpoint a price, or a significant concession, a difficulty, does not really hold that value.” -- Israel Shorek