Workplace Communicator Blog

How to Engage Staff with your Core Values

Posted by Marie-Claire Ross on Tue, Mar 15, 2011

describe the imageIn the seminal book Built to Last, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, they discovered that what made great companies better than good companies was that great companies had a core ideology.  This is when a company is clear on "This is who we are, this is what we stand for, this is what we're all about".

The core ideology is so fundamental to how the company exists that it does not change.  It drives the company's culture.

Core Ideology = Core Values + Purpose

As  part of the core ideology, companies have up to six core values that are a set of general guiding principles that are not to be confused with operating or specific cultural practices.

Collins and Porras claimed that there are no 'right' set of core values.  What stood great companies apart from good companies was how deeply and consistently staff at the company lived, breathed and expressed the core values.

In Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, author Verne Harnish takes this one step further by explaining that once you have your core values, most of your effort will be spent keeping these values alive with existing and new employees, as well as employees from acquisitions.  Leaders need to do more than just post the core values on a wall with the hope that they will sink in.  Instead, creative methods need to be employed so that core values get reinforced daily.

Zappos, the online leader in retail, is well known for its strong culture and adherence to its 10 core values.  CEO, Tony Hsieh wrote in the Book Delivering Happiness how they have devised a way to interview new employees to work out if their core values match.  Every piece of communication to staff always include reference to the core values.

Great companies spend a lot of time indoctrinating new staff into the company values and culture.  One way they do this is produce a core values video that clearly explains what they core values. This can be shown to staff worldwide to ensure consistency of values.

Here are some tips on what to include in your Core Values Video:

1. Introduction from senior leaders - Senior leaders drive the culture of the company.  Get the CEO to explain the importance of why core values are important and the company purpose.  Explain how the core values where developed and why.  Let everyone know when they should be considering the core values (for example: during decision-making etc).  Make it friendly and welcoming.  Remember, first impressions count!

2. Use stories - Include corporate story-telling. Where possible, use real-life examples that exemplify your core values that demonstrate staff actions that are in alignment with your core values.  Name staff members to encourage further good behaviour from peers.

3. Get staff from all levels to introduce each core value. Use titles.  Use as much vision as you can that matches the value.  Explain what each core values means and why.  Give examples.

4. Use compelling music. Music really does make or break a video.  Make it fun.  Make sure it matches your company.  And check that you have permission to use it.

This will be one of the most important corporate video productions that your company will make.  Spend the time to make it inspiring and motivating.  And importantly, get as many people involved in with it in the company to help with buy-in.

Remember, the core values video really shouldn't change much over time.  While it might date, in terms of office locations and people and yes, clothes and hair, the core of it will be timeless.

Topics: CEOs and executives, company ideology video, core values, workplace safety communication, communicating core values, core ideology, core values video