Values are just behaviors – specific, nitty-gritty, and so descriptive they leave little to the imagination. People must be able to use them as marching orders because they are the how of the mission, the means to the end -- winning.
In contrast to the creation of a mission, everyone in a company should have something to say about values. Yes, that can be a messy undertaking. That’s OK. In a small enterprise, everyone can be involved in debating them in all kinds of meetings. In a larger organization, it’s a lot tougher. But you can use company-wide meetings, training sessions, and the like, for as much personal discussion as possible, and the intranet for broader input.
Getting more participation really makes a difference, giving you more insights and more ideas, and at the end of the process, most importantly, much more extensive buy-in.
The actual process of creating values, incidentally, has to be iterative. The executive team may come up with a first version, but it should be just that, a first version. Such a document should go out to be poked and probed by people all over an organization, over and over again. And the executive team has to go out of their way to be sure they’ve created an atmosphere where people feel it is their obligation to contribute.
Now if you’re in a company where speaking up gets you whacked, this method of developing values just isn’t going to work. I understand that, and as long as you stay, you’re going to have to live with that generic plaque in the front hall.
But if you’re at a company that does welcome debate – and many do -- shame on you if you don’t contribute to the process. If you want values and behaviors that you understand and can live yourself, you have to make the case for them.
Read more at Jack and Suzy Welch.