Workplace culture can feel like an elusive commodity. We all want great culture, but knowing where to start and how to get there can seem overwhelming. Furthermore, great culture is a culmination of great people and great policies working together toward a common goal. It’s a responsibility shared by every team member across an organization.
So where does culture come from? This post will explore the integral relationship between company culture and another fundamental feature of your company: core values.
Why core values?
If you're looking to improve your workplace culture, begin by defining and articulating your organization's core values. Already have them? Commit some time to evaluate if they are communicating the right message to your team and clients.
Our values appeal to the deepest parts of who we are and bring meaning into our daily lives. A life without values is hardly a life at all. Developing values leads to meaningful work, relationships, and purpose.
Your teams are craving this conversation, too. They want to know that the people they work for and with share their same passion, dedication, and commitment to the job. And the best way to communicate this to your team is to create a set of values that defines your organization, enabling everyone to share in the meaningful work.
Core values bring unity
Individually, we all have a collection of values. We have deduced and gathered these values through a lifetime of relationships and experiences. If you grew up on a farm, you’ve likely learned to value hard work. You display this value in your decision making, responses, and interactions with the world. And it likely wouldn’t take long for me to understand this about you.
Now, think of the many life experiences represented within your organization. Each team member brings a collection of values to work every day. And if our team members are all working from a different subset of values, it can be hard to find shared success.
It’s our responsibility as company culture leaders to articulate the values we hold important so our teams can know, see, and follow the path to success. When we have a clear set of values to guide us in our daily work, and we consistently communicate them in ways our teams understand, it provides unity despite our differences in life experiences. Just because individual team members hold some unique personal values, doesn't mean they can't rally around new company values. As you march to the beat of your company values, you’ll attract like-minded individuals who can join you on the path to success.
Core values express priorities
Our values give us the opportunity to express our priorities. Of course, your priorities matter to your team. Have you ever worked a job where the priorities of the leadership didn’t resonate with you as an individual? Or perhaps their priorities (e.g. closing deals) directly sacrificed a value you held dear (e.g. honesty)? I am sure we can all nod our heads in agreement. And we can also agree that we are much less likely to be engaged in the work as a result. Our desire to actively contribute to the success of the organization begins to dwindle. We don’t feel valued and as a result, don’t share value.
The values you set as an organization actively communicate your priorities. At Click Rain, Balance is a core value. This means our priority is ensuring our employees have work-life balance. We express it, we encourage it, we back it up with policies and conversations, and our people feel it. They appreciate the commitment we have to that priority and the reciprocal value it brings to them as individuals.
Core values create shared language
Have you ever needed to have a critical conversation with someone and struggled with where to begin? Maybe a team member or superior was not holding up their end of a bargain but it feels awkward to voice your frustration. Perhaps you were working with different understandings of the end goal or approaching a problem with your personal experiences and values in mind. That’s hard. Left unaddressed, it can fester and cause distrust. On the other hand, having a publicized set of values opens the door for accountability through shared language. Now that we’re speaking the same language of our shared values and priorities, we have the proper framework and understanding to solve problems and articulate precisely what went wrong—or right.
For example, it becomes much easier to talk with a coworker about mismanaged time if we both are aware of the organizational value of Stewardship. Our conversation is less about our differences of personal opinion and more about the responsibility we share in an accepted organizational value system.
Core values shape your culture
In short, strong values support a robust company culture. When you have strong values—which unify your team around shared priorities and language—you have a team of individuals who are more engaged, dedicated to success, and supportive of one another in the journey. Now that's starting to sound like a great place to work!
Core values start the process of engaging your workplace in a winning culture, but that's just the beginning. We'd love to hear how your organization works to shape a positive culture. Share your success stories with us on Twitter.