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The entire purpose of establishing and cultivating values is to influence behaviour, which in turn determines your culture. If your values don’t influence behaviour, they are pointless.

What are your business values? Can you list them immediately or do you have to stop and think?  If you can’t remember your stated values off the top of your head, what is the likelihood that they’re actually influencing your behaviour in real time, particularly when under pressure?

Michael Bunting is the bestselling author of The Mindful Leader and runs leadership consultancy WorkSmart Australia.

“Company values are an area of significant focus in Mindfulness Leadership – yet time and again, I’ve found that most company’s values aren’t doing what they were created to do. But with some purposeful revisions, they can become something that truly unites and motivates an organisation,” says Bunting.  

Here are four steps for establishing and cultivating meaningful and effective values for your organisation, according to Bunting.

 

1.       Less is more

It’s fairly standard for organisations to establish five to 10 core values and then execute a communication campaign around them. After the communication campaign however, these values are forgotten and neglected, and business goes on as usual.

Then, of course, people get cynical about them. The more values you list, the less likely people are to even remember them, let alone follow them in practice.

Keep it simple. The fewer values you establish, the easier it is to remember and cultivate them.              

2.       Create an agreed story around the values

In order for leaders to bring values to life and provide context, there must be a shared story around each stated value and behavioural standard.

3.       Establish clear behavioural standards around your values

The entire purpose of establishing and cultivating values is to influence behaviour, which in turn determines your culture. If your values don’t influence behaviour, they are pointless.

Each value you establish should be accompanied with clear, tangible, observable and measurable behavioural standards.

·         What does living this value look like in practice?

·         How do we know when we’ve violated the value?

·         How do we know when to correct course, and even what to fix?

Only by knowing the specific behaviour attached to those values – and ensuring this is understood across the organisation - can we hold people accountable for these values.

4.       Consistently talk about your values and hold people accountable to them

Once you’ve established your values, talk about them regularly and demonstrate to people that you’re serious.

Acknowledge people who live these values in their behaviour and use them as a shining example that shows others in your business, “This is what it looks like to live our values!”  

Hold people accountable uncompromisingly; otherwise your team will become cynical about them.

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