You buy values with action, not words. You don’t own values just because you put them on your wall or think they’re a nice idea. You own them when they work. So let’s learn how to put your values to work every day and build your brand.
Your brand’s values work in your company before you talk about them. If they don’t, they’re not your values, and this is not your brand. It’s a slap-on decoration.
So we’ve talked about values and how they form the core of what you do.
We’ve talked about why it’s necessary that those values turn into actions that benefit your values.
We’ve also talked about the importance of talking about what you believe in order to share the “why” that drives your brand forward. And so that people can spread the philosophy.
Now let’s talk about how to document these things and how to set up a regular session that allows people to understand what’s going on, synthesize them, and then live them out in their jobs.
Make Your Brand Touch Lives
How do you help your values grow deep roots in your company? You adopt a process that invites everyone to think about the values and then turn them into actions that change the process.
So you do the following:
- Talk with people about your values and have them synthesize those values, like in a college lit class (except it’s not for them to determine what those values mean to them; you’re quite literally asking them to own your values, not reinvent them).
- Work together to find areas you’re not living out those values in how your company works (e.g. operations, HR, customer service).
- Change your process to conform to those values.
Make what you say match what you do. Revolutionary, right?
But you might want a more-specific process. I can help.
First, we work from the top down. Leadership, then front-line employees.
- Get in a group of your 3 most senior people every month.
- Pick a value. Talk about what it means.
- Each person writes on a sticky note 3 things they’re doing in their departments that don’t live out that value.
- Group the sticky notes.
- Have everyone rank them.
- Take the top 3 and identify the problem. In what way is it violating your value? What’s the cost? Why is it a problem?
- If it’s worth fixing at that point, decide what you’ll do (who will do it and how you’ll know it’s done). Make it a one-month task, so that it’s done when you next meet.
Note: the next month, add a task at the beginning to go over the assigned tasks and make sure they got done.
Rules for the meeting:
- You’re asking people to question policies and actions. If you’re uncomfortable with that, maybe this isn’t for you.
- Reserve judgment and listen. Allow them to ask the dumb questions (that’s where some of the biggest assumptions-turned-myths get busted) and suggest solutions.
- They’re allowed to come up with problems without solutions, but the problems don’t get solved if there’s no clear path toward a solution.
Say what you believe and then go do it.
If you’re willing to put yourself on trial before your values, you’re doing what very few companies do and putting yourself on the next level. But don’t do it because it makes you “better.” Do it because it makes the work you do matter in the lives of people.
Everyone Wants Values. Not Everyone Wants to Live Right.
Most people aren’t willing to do the small things. They want to do the big, exciting things. But if you follow this process, or build your own, your brand can start delivering dividends before you even make a great logo. This is the essence of your brand in its raw form. This is where grand ideas meet operations and employee’s everyday lives. This is where it becomes real. And if it can’t become real here, then you have to question whether you really own those values.
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