When the mountain-top experience is over, and the hard work begins, what do your values look like? This is the real test. What do your brand values look like when they’re lived out at the lowest level? In the end, you only benefit from the values that you live out. And you only live out values if they’re applied to the mundane; what do they look like on a Tuesday?
Here are a few ways you can tell if you’re really living out your values or if you’ve put them on the backburner.
Do You Publicize Them?
How do you share them with your team and with stakeholders? Do you…
- Put them up everywhere? Make posters and share them visibly, keeping them top-of-mind?
- Reward people who live out the values (not just do nice things, but do things pertaining to the values)? In other words, do you nominate and then select people, on a clear set of criteria, for recognition?
- Find a way for employees to express how they think each of the values applies to their jobs?
- Find a new angle by which to view each value and share it at each company meeting and through blog posts and other company communication?
How do you gauge how well you’re doing at all levels of your business?
- As leader, are you supporting these values? How do you know? Who has permission to tell you if you’re not? Is there time and place for this? Some companies have values, but when there’s a conflict between values and revenue, they choose revenue. This confuses people.
- Maybe you can survey customers and partners.
How do you reward performance?
- Have employees vote for the executive/manager who’s created the most support for the values. Recognize them.
- Have a quarterly recognition of managers and then other employees (however many categories make the most sense).
- Analyze your values against how you incentivize success in other areas. Is there a contradiction? Are you encouraging bad sales practices in order to make more sales, but also expecting employees to live out values that conflict? Are employees between a rock and a hard place? Can they be honest about it?
Make sure your words and actions support what your values claim.
Powerful emotional experiences can make us want to change. But the real test is how it looks on a Tuesday, when there’s tedious work to be done, sales are down, the printer doesn’t work and the coffee tastes like crap. That’s when you find out who you really are. The good news is that you have the power to change that by taking intentional steps to live out your values.