Every individual and organization values something. I recently discussed how values always exist in organizations. Unfortunately, consensus around values is less prevalent. How can an organization evaluate the values they espouse? What can be done to get alignment around a core set of values? I recently came up with a set of criteria that organizations can use when explaining values.
Here are the 3M's of value.
Last week I was standing in a Cable Company's service center and noticed a list of values on the wall. Customer Service was at the top of the list. After standing in line for 15 minutes, watching employees abandon their posts as the line got bigger, and receiving horrible service I came to the conclusion that "Customer Service" did not mean anything to the employees. Don't let your value statements become posters on the wall until you make it meaningful to your people. Your values are not aspirations. They need to be real and accurately represent your organization.
Are your values memorable? Are they simple to state? I was recently speaking to someone who works in a Fortune 500 company and he noted how his organization had 12 values. We laughed after he shared that he couldn't remember what they all were. When you are explicating values find ways to make them memorable. Keep the statements short and sweet. Use single words or quick statements. Try to find a picture that relates to the value or create a mnemonic.
Can you look an employee in the eye and tell her how to behave in a way that is congruent with your organization's values? If you say that you value integrity you better be able to tell true stories about how that value is acted out in your organization. It is also helpful to describe what behaviors or actions do not align with that value. If you spend time explicating values you should also spend time living them. The best way to live your values is to act on them and reflect on what they mean.