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3 Ways to Reinforce Critical Core Values in Employees

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  • Leadership & Strategy

3 Ways to Reinforce Critical Core Values in Employees

Critical core values

A company’s core values should be the deeply ingrained framework around which all their processes, goals, and motivation is built. But how many organizations choose values that sound good at face value, stick them on a wall somewhere, and simply expect their people to care or their culture to change?

If this is true, don’t throw in the towel — structuring meaningful core values as the foundation of the workplace is challenging and takes concerted effort and time to get right. In this post, I hope to share some strategies that may help you start shifting your core values from an inconsequential decoration to an impactful driver of behavior.

1. Personalize Core Values

Choosing the one-word buzzwords that are common in many business core values may sound effective, but values like integrity, innovation, communication, or respect are broad, bland, and next to meaningless.

If a company has those four examples as their values, what happens when employees feel like their ideas aren’t listened to? Or when miscommunications happen often between teams? Or if the company itself doesn’t stand up for a worthy cause? Employees instantly lose faith in the core values and start to view the organization as hypocritical.

So instead of trying to make employees care about formless, insincere core values that would fit on any company’s wall, think about your specific company, your specific mission and goals, and your specific people.

What are the foundational pillars of your company and culture? These aren’t aspirational values, they’re values that existed from the formation of your company and will never be compromised.

2. Communicate Core Values

With personalized, foundational values in place, it’s time to communicate them far and wide. Reinforce your values through as many touch points as possible, such as newsletters, all-hands meetings, holiday parties, performance reviews, and one-on-one meetings.

Another way to communicate values is by personifying them. Company leaders should fully believe in the core values and always be an example of them.

The leadership team at Awardco isn’t perfect — we’re far from it, but one of our core values is to Be Even Better. Because of that, we’re transparent in our all-hands meetings about how our company is doing, what our goals are, where we’ve made mistakes, and where we’re striving to do better. 

Leaders need to be the examples that employees can follow when it comes to core values.

3. Reinforce Core Values With Recognition

Ninety-two percent of employees are likely to repeat a specific action after they’re recognized for it. In other words, when employees are recognized for something they’ve done, they’ll do it again.

This is important for building a culture around your core values. Leaders and managers at every level need to be trained to watch for employees who exemplify values and recognize them for it. And as employees are recognized and rewarded for following values, they — and others around them — will be more likely to want to continue to live those values.

For example, an Awardco client, Ultradent, uses their peer-to-peer recognition program to strengthen their core values and culture. Whenever their employees recognize each other, they tag the recipient with a company core value, reinforcing that behavior and the core value that was displayed.

With this program in place, Ultradent leaders have been able to hand the culture-building responsibilities to their employees, who have taken their value-driven culture further than ever before.

Build a Better Culture

Companies that put in the time and effort to develop strong core values that drive business decisions and workplace behavior will create a culture that employees love. By personalizing, exemplifying, and recognizing their values, leaders can take their culture from ineffectual to hugely impactful.

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