Get People’s Perspective On Company Values

posted in: Culture, Employee Engagement, Values | 0

Let’s continue where we left of. You determined your personal core values! Congratulations, that is not an easy exercise and had you look honestly at yourself. However, it was a step, the journey has just began…

Your core values are valuable, but to run a values driven business a core set of values should be carried by all your employees. How to do that? That’s the next step(s) we’re taking!

People are unique, the combination of their values inside a company, into the ways of working of a company shapes in large the culture of a company. That in turn makes each company’s culture unique. Therefore, here are a few different approaches to get key people’s personal values, think through what you believe works best with your team!

Be sure to involve a limited number of people (first), though make sure to include different departments. Starting with the executive team, especially if they are well respected, is fine for this step. As with the purpose exercise the importance lies in the credibility of the people you select. Are they engaged, motivated, and trusted by a broad group of people across your organization? This will help along the way to come to values all people are willing to stand up for – but we’ll get back to that in a later step.

Option 1-Personal Maps based (inspired by this Management 3.0 #Workout)
  • Grab the corporate Values and the Values from the Personal Maps
  • Put each on a post-it. Use a different color for the corporate ones
  • Put the corporate ones up on the wall (no worries, later we’ll talk about “taking your values off the wall)
    1. Ask each team member to place their Values where they believe they belong (make sure they put their name on the post-it as well)
    2. The person may find a similarity or feel it is related to a corporate value or not
    3. This doesn’t matter, people are people, it is unlikely the whole team lives by personal values perfectly in sync with the corporate ones
    4. Especially because in big(ger) corporations there usually are only a few corporate values, while individuals may have more
    5. Important is to recognize them
  • Of course you have an issue if none of the team members has values with a similarity or relation to the corporate ones – much work to do on aligning constraints
  • People may as well place their value in relation to a value of a colleague.
  • This gives you an idea of ‘group’ values which, again, may differ from the corporate ones.

Here’s an example where this experiment is actually executed to come to a “Team Celebration Map“, of course the exercise described can be used to determine Values instead of Celebrations.


Option 2-Ask each key person to execute Step #2

Have each key person take their output of Step #2 and have them add to that the company’s core values. Now have them use this simple set of questions from Chris Moody that you can ask yourself to determine which elements matter:

  • Is this aspect of the company important to our long-term success?
  • Does this aspect need to be maintained forever and is it sustainable?
  • Does this aspect apply to all areas of the company and to all employees?
  • Will establishing this aspect help us make important decisions in the future?

If they answered, “yes” to all of the above, congratulations…you’ve just identified a new potential value.

Option 3-CEO asks for the values

Since the CEO is the most publicly visible person in a company, change/alignment/definition of values may very well start from them (this is the logic of having this step after #2, if in #2 it’s been the CEO doing the personal exercise). People are more willing to change their behaviors, to think about changing them if a “CEO-figure” asks the questions. Here’s 2 examples of CEO’s who did exactly that!

Zappos example:

Zappos email sent out in 2005

Companies have core values, and we’re working on defining them explicitly for Zappos so everyone is on the same page…

But the purpose of this email is to ask what everyone’s personal values are… please email me 4 or 5 values that you live by (or want to live by) that define who you are or who you want to be… (do not cc everyone)… each value should be one word or at most a short phrase (but ideally one word)… please email me the values that are significant and meaningful to you personally, not necessarily having anything to do with the company’s values…

Buffer example:

Values Survey; sent to Buffer team by co-founders Joel and Leo

Buffer Values Survey

Now you have a first set of Corporate and valued Team values

Next week will be about what to do with them!

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