Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Sorry to be the one to tell you, but leadership work is complex. The best intentions, not well-thought out, can lead to significant challenges. Take the implementation of values for example. I was recently, consulting with a new business leader who had put together some great core values for her business. Missing however were some important parts of her values, such as: are these actually attainable, measurable, or objective. This lack of specifics can be very detrimental to your implementation despite your best laid plans.
SMART is an important acronym in setting goals, its also very helpful when looking at the implementation of organizational values. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Implementing organizational values is one of the most effective ways to create a culture of commitment. However, if too many barriers get in the way, or they are too difficult to attain all that hard work has been for naught.
A note on the behavioral aspects of implementing values within your organization. If you are going to implement values in your organization, and I am an advocate for that, they need to mean something.
What do your values stand for?
Organizational values tell the story of who you are. What you stand for. What you expect. If you cannot measure how your team members are living up to those values, why have them? Additionally, you run the risk of having a shadow culture, which can create a lot of stress and confusion for your employees. If I join an organization because I believe in their values, and those values are not enforced, I have very little affective commitment, meaning, my commitment to you is minimal.
Here are a few ways to add meaning to your values and make them a living part of your organizational culture.
Are your core values attainable by your definition? Are there organizational or environmental barriers in play that my limit your team members ability to meet the core value? If for example you expect your team members to arrive to a customer location timely, how do you mitigate for traffic? For unforeseen issues at the previous customer? For unnecessary or redundant organizational check ins?
Can you definitively say yes or no that team member B meets these values? The easiest measurement is a yes or no. However, there are many metrics that can put into place, and this is why getting specific is important.
Is the team member making an assessment, making an objective or subjective decision? Decision-bias is a real thing and if there is subjectivity in the decision criteria, it is possible that favoritism may be a factor. Remove as much subjectivity in the process as possible, and make certain that this criteria is known to all team members.
The ART of SMART: Get input from your team
Our organizations are made up of people. As such, people do not like to be told things. The time of top down management is over, so as you have the opportunity to develop your values, be sure to include your team members. This is especially important in the ART part of the SMART goals. As the organizational leader, you have the ability to establish the Specificity of the value as well as how to Measure it. As you implement these values, be sure to get input from your team about their attainability (A), how realistic (R) they are, and the timeframe (T). Your teams are busy working, understandable. There are ways however, to get this input without taking a great deal of time away from operations.
The other value of Values
Values are a great part of your organization. They identify what you stand for, how you conduct your operations, and sets employee expectations. Organizational values also attract the right people for your organization and used during interviewing, can help both employee and organization determine best fit.
If you’re ready to establish values, a measurement approach, or interview related question, connect with us and we’ll help you create a values-based culture. We can also help ensure that your organizational values are implemented in a meaningful way that will create a culture of commitment!