Live Your Values

path-forestWhat does it mean to be a value based organization? Have you clarified your organizational values?  Who’s been involved in the process? How are they being communicated? Are the personal values of your employees aligned with your organizational values? Are your values being lived on a day to day basis? What does that actually look like?

Hopefully these are just some of the questions you’ve been asking yourself along the journey.

There is a very strong link between your organizational values and your organizational story. You could say they are one and the same. Values create the frame around your organizational story. The moral of your organizational story should ideally be imbued with your organizational values.

One of our missions is to assist organizational leaders and team members by focusing on values, thus helping to clarify your story. Then we can turn our attention on how to communicate that story both inside and outside your organization.

In short, we help you Choose your story.

Develop Your Leaders

Leaders hold the greatest potential for truly integrating your company’s ability to live values and improve culture.

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Nurture Your Culture

Building trust and nurturing culture relies on everyone’s ability to honestly articulate their own individual and collective story.

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The Plaque On the Wall Is Not Enough

Here’s a losing scenario. A company has a set of values that they post as a plaque on the wall and a memo sent to all hands. Identifying the values did not involve a process that involved people at all levels of the organization. They were generated by senior leadership in isolation, then force fed down through the organization. No one quite knows what they mean. They don’t know what connection they have to them. They don’t know what to do with them – or what it might look like to live them. Chances are, neither do the senior leaders.

In order to have decision making be driven by values, there must be an absolute commitment to living the values made by senior leadership all the way down to the shop floor. This requires that senior leadership be open to hearing the truth. It requires what Brene Brown defines courage as, “The original definition (cour coming from the latin meaning heart) is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”, and the willingness to listen with your whole heart. It requires the willingness and ability to adapt and change based on what you hear.

Understanding and Aligning Values

The process of understanding values begins with asking questions and then listening to the stories of the people. The way we express our values is through the stories we tell, the experiences we’ve had in various contexts with various people. The process of listening to and sharing stories helps people clarify their own connection to their values and the company’s values.

A collective story begins to emerge, which is the story of the organization. This is the story of how people live within the organization. Then you have to consider if the story you are living maps with the stated organizational values, goals, vision, mission. This leads to asking if the story you are living internally is aligned externally to your customers, partners, shareholders, etc.

This is why values define your story.

Our time tested experience, as well as numerous studies, demonstrates that relationships are the main driver of business results. The relationships on the inside of an organization inform and reflect the relationships on the outside. When employees are inspired by their relationships with their leaders, their peers and their subordinates, they are more committed to their work, their customers and the organization. Relationships define the story of your organization.

Values are an expression of our longing

Values stem from what we believe will provide us that which we most desire. We don’t always know or fully understand what those desires are. They sit in this place called longing. We long to be loved, to be accepted, to be appreciated and valued. We long to be understood. We long to feel connected to those things and people that matter most to us. We long to reach beyond what we know, to be part of something greater than us, to become more than we are, to experience that which we’ve never seen, felt, heard, tasted. We long for comfort, and we long to be delivered from our fears. These longings translate into what we say we want, what we say we believe. Values then inform who we think we are, our story. That story informs our choices, hence defines our behaviors. timnicole-copy

We tend to act on what we believe, what we think will be the right choice. We make choices based on previous experiences and the subsequent outcomes. Making choices based on our values requires us to know our values and be fully connected to them. They have to be top of mind. Many organizations focus on fact based decision making. In many respects that’s a wise strategy; Find out as much information as you can then make the most informed decision possible. The trick is to test that against organizational values. As long as there is alignment, the decisions made will keep an organization moving forward on the path to growth. Various parts of an organization can support the decision. The decision based both on appropriate valuable information and the company’s values will not create any problems for other parts of the organization.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

In healthy organizations, behaviors are informed by values. When values have been clearly articulated, and when people feel a personal connection to the organizational values, because at least some of their own personal values are the same as the organizational values, their behaviors uplift other people. How people treat other employees builds stronger relationships through trust rather than creating tension, suspicion, fear.

Challenges arise either when various parts of the organization do not share the same values, or when decisions are made without consideration to the impact they will have on other parts of the organization. This is why it is key to be very clear on what the values are, ensure they are clearly articulated, engage employees to align around the values by helping them make connections between their values and the company values, and generate clear agreements among various parts of the organization about what behaviors support the values, build relationships and grow the company.

We Are Here To Help

Many organizations have challenges addressing values. This is especially common in technically oriented industries. We can assist you in breaking through and escalating values so that your company can take the leap forward you’ve been seeking!

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