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Built on Values – Creating an Enviable Culture

Written by: on  April 7, 2011

Too often I have seen values and mission statements written on the walls of companies looking like they’ve been lifted from a textbook in order to give the impression of a values based environment. Many leaders want to believe that all they need to do is proclaim a set of values and culture will magically change.

If the leaders can’t demonstrate the organizations values it’s little surprise that the employees feel disconnected from an organizational vision.

Ann Rhoades book ‘Built on Values offers a blue print for values-based cultural transformation and a guide to creating a culture where people want to work so you can attract, engage and retain the best talent. She has a wealth of experience in helping create the high performing cultures at some of the most admired companies in America.

She starts by saying that there is no ‘right’ culture; there is only right fit, and defining the right fit is a process of determining what values are important to your organisiation’s success and committing to them. It is absolutely essential that you make values come alive for employees if you want them to change their behaviour in ways that reflect those values. You must tie values and behaviour in to a few compelling metrics in the company and you must reward your people for living them.

If your values are inspiring and connected to behaviours, hiring and rewards, your culture will become higher performing by itself, and Ann offers lots of tips to leaders who want to create a self-reinforced ‘culture of excellence’.

  1. Leaders drive Values
  2. Values drive Behaviour
  3. Behaviours drive Culture
  4. Cultures drive Performance

She discusses the definition of culture as being ‘the glue that holds our organizations together. It encompasses beliefs, norms, rituals, communication patterns, symbols, heroes and reward structures’. The important question is whether you’re using your culture purposefully to enhance your chance for success.

Her book offers a process to create a values blueprint and she breaks that journey down starting with surveys to identify the current state of culture and the effectiveness of systems you already have in place. She then moves on to look at how to set up a ‘Values Blueprint workshops’ and offers a range of practical templates in her ‘leaders toolbox’ section.

When culture change is imposed from the top it is likely to be meaningless to the vast majority of your employees. If you build company wide agreement on the values and behaviours you want to share, you’ll build a strong foundation for culture change and performance will be hard for competitors to shake.

You’ll also attract and retain employees for whom those agreed upon values are the foundation for sometimes astonishing behaviour.

Some of the questions in her process include:

  • Do employees live our company’s stated values?
  • Do those values represent what we are today?
  • Are the meanings of the values clear?
  • Do our leaders support the values?
  • Do our current values drive decisions made in our organisation?
  • Has our organisation assigned specific behaviours to the values?
  • Are our values integrated in to the hiring, review, and reward process?

How would you currently answer these questions?




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