How to Bring Your Company Values to Life: Easy Tips - The Big Bang Partnership

How to Bring Your Company Values to Life: Easy Tips

Cup of coffee alongside a notepad, with the words 'core values' written on it

Why Core Values Matter

Core values are the north star for your organization, guiding every decision and action. Whether it’s about enhancing customer satisfaction, improving employee retention, or driving innovation, core values shape your organizational culture and define the company’s trajectory.

Mission, Vision and Values

Your values help you deliver your mission and vision, which communicate the difference your organization wants to make in the world, your strategy and business aspirations. Your values focus on how you want to achieve your mission and vision through your daily behaviors, actions and decisions.

If you don’t have a mission, vision or values, or if you have them but would like to update or refresh them, have a look at my article here which will guide you through the process.

One of the questions that I am frequently asked is: how to bring the company’s values to life? It’s one thing having your values nicely defined, written down and shared, quite another to make them live and breathe in everything your team does. Here are my easy tips to turn the words and intentions into reality, creating the organizational culture that you’re aiming for, and supporting a more effective and innovative workplace.

My video: Bring Your Company Values to Life

Categories of Company Values

There are four main categories of company values:

  1. Core: Core values are the fundamental principles that define the organization’s identity. They are the non-negotiables that every action and decision should align with.
  2. Aspirational: These values represent the ideals the organization strives to achieve. They are goals that they are working towards, reflecting their ambition and direction for growth.
  3. Minimum Standards: These are the basic behaviors and norms that the organization expects from all its members. They set the baseline for conduct and performance.
  4. Organic or ‘Accidental’: These values emerge naturally over time within the organization. They aren’t formally stated but can be observed in the regular patterns of behavior and decision-making within the company.
Four boxes, each containing one of the four categories of company values: Core; Aspirational; Minimum Standards; Organic or Accidental
Company Values: Categories

Types of Company Values

There are eight types of values that can influence an organization’s strategies and operations:

  • Ethical: These emphasize integrity, honesty, and doing what is morally right.
  • Economic: This type of values focus on profitability, revenue growth, and financial health.
  • Social: These values prioritize social responsibilities, community engagement, and being a good corporate citizen.
  • Cultural: Cultural values that celebrate diversity, foster a sense of belonging, and shape the company culture.
  • Innovation: These drive creativity, change, and continuous improvement.
  • Leadership: Leadership that underline the importance of vision, inspiration, and guiding others.
  • Customer Focus: These values put the customer’s needs and experiences at the forefront.
  • Quality: Values that ensure excellence, reliability, and high standards in products and services.
Boxes containing the 8 types of company values: ethical, economic, social, cultural, innovation, leadership, customer focus, quality.
Types of Company Values

How to Turn Values into Culture

To build a strong organizational culture, it’s essential to translate values into everyday practices. The process begins with clearly defined values, which are the fundamental beliefs and principles of the organization. These values must be more than words on a page; they need to be the foundation for all behaviors, actions, and decisions.

From Values to Behaviors

Behaviors are the visible, tangible manifestations of values. When values are truly integrated into an organization, they shape the way employees act, both with each other and in the work they do. This means hiring people who exhibit these values and encouraging behaviors that align with them through reinforcement and recognition.

process for turning values into culture via behaviors, actions, decision
Turning Values into Culture

Actions Speak Louder

Actions are behaviors in motion; they are the decisions taken and the steps made towards achieving goals. For values to be engrained in the culture, every action—from the way meetings are conducted to the approach taken towards customer service—must be in harmony with the values.

Decisions as Value Reflectors

Decisions, whether they are strategic choices or daily resolutions, must reflect the organization’s values. When faced with options, choosing the path that is consistent with the core values reinforces their importance and sets a precedent within the organization.

Cultivating Culture through Consistency

Over time, the consistent application of values through behaviors, actions, and decisions cultivates a strong culture. Culture is the environment that surrounds employees at work; it is the “way things are done around here.” When an organization’s values are lived out daily, they shape a culture that embodies those values, creating a strong, unified, and purpose-driven workplace.

Values as Everyday Practices

Values become culture when they are not only stated but are also consistently acted upon. The real test of an organization’s values lies in their translation into everyday business practices—how they inform the interactions among team members, influence customer relations, and steer the organization toward its goals. When the gap between stated values and actual practices closes, a robust and authentic culture emerges.

Easy Tips for Bring Your Company’s Values to Life

Reinforcing Values Daily

Every day presents a new opportunity to bring your company’s values to life. From the management team to remote teams, embedding these values into day-to-day actions offers a powerful way to maintain them top of mind throughout the entire organization. For example, starting meetings in conference rooms or virtually with a quick reference to the values and including them in the employee handbook are easy ways to reinforce what the company stands for.

Examples of values on everyday items, such as mug, coaster, screensaver
Visual, everyday reminders of your company’s values

Values in Hiring and Onboarding

The hiring process is the first step in embedding your organizational values. By incorporating interview questions that assess alignment with your company’s values, you can attract top talent who not only have the skills but also share the core beliefs of the organization. During onboarding, new employees can experience the company’s culture through values-focused activities and culture decks, ensuring they understand and embrace these principles from the start.

Fostering Engagement through Values

An employee engagement platform that features values-based employee recognition programs can transform appreciation into a routine practice. Such platforms facilitate peer recognition and support a values-based recognition program, proving to be a top driver of employee engagement. This approach fosters a positive work environment and enhances the overall morale and productivity of team members.

Leadership and Values

Leadership plays a crucial role in the propagation of company values. As role models, the leadership team must exhibit specific behaviors that reflect these values, providing clear examples for others to follow. This commitment from the top ensures that the company’s values remain a living part of the organizational culture, influencing everything from the one-to-one and performance review process to daily interactions.

Communication of Values

Effective internal communications keep the company’s values in the limelight. From social media posts by the marketing department to announcements on the employee engagement platform, every message should carry a clear endorsement of the core values. Constant reinforcement helps build a stronger connection between team members and the organizational values.

Recognizing and Rewarding Values

Values-based employee recognition programs are an excellent way to highlight and reward specific behaviors that exemplify your company’s values. These programs promote a culture of recognition and also help maintain high levels of employee motivation and commitment, supporting the bottom line.

The Role of Values in Innovation

Strong values encourage a workplace culture that is open to experimentation and creativity, leading to breakthrough innovations. When team members from different departments, such as the leadership team and marketing department, collaborate under a shared goal underpinned by core company values, they are more likely to produce great things. This synergy can lead to better customer experiences and a more positive environment overall.

Bring Your Company’s Values to Life in Your External Engagement

The company website and social media are great platforms for broadcasting the company’s core values to the wider world, offering a great example of how values influence corporate identity. These platforms can enhance the customer experience by conveying a sense of pride in the company’s commitment to doing the right thing, directly impacting customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Integrating strong values into every facet of your business from leadership to marketing, from internal culture to customer interactions, creates a more positive and productive work environment and also sets the foundation for sustained success and achievement of company goals. This strategic focus on values fosters deeper understanding among team members and solidifies the entire company’s commitment to these ideals, paving the way for continued growth and success.

Checklist of Easy Tips to Bring Your Company’s Values to Life

Reinforce Values Daily

  • Integrate core values in daily actions across all team levels.
  • Start meetings with a reference to core values.
  • Include core values in the employee handbook.

Values in Hiring and Onboarding

  • Include value-based questions in interviews.
  • Attract candidates who share company values.
  • Use values-focused activities during onboarding.

Drive Engagement through Values

  • Implement a values-based employee recognition program.
  • Use engagement platforms for peer recognition.
  • Transform appreciation into routine practice.

Leadership and Values

  • Ensure leadership demonstrates values through behavior.
  • Use leadership actions as examples for others.
  • Include values in performance reviews.

Communication of Values

  • Keep core values prominent in internal communications.
  • Use social media and marketing to endorse values.
  • Ensure every message reinforces the company’s values.

Recognizing and Rewarding Values

  • Highlight behaviors that reflect company values through recognition programs.
  • Maintain high motivation and commitment through rewards.

The Role of Values in Innovation

  • Foster a culture open to creativity and experimentation.
  • Encourage collaboration under shared values for innovation.

Values in External Engagement

  • Broadcast values via company website and social media.
  • Use values to enhance customer experience and loyalty.

About the Author

Founder and CEO of The Big Bang Partnership Ltd & Idea Time. Innovator. Author. Business Coach. International Keynote Speaker & Facilitator. Director Technology & Transformation at Port of Tyne. Leader of the UK’s Maritime 2050 Innovation Hub. Non-Executive Director.  Associate in Business Innovation and Creativity at University of York and Lancaster University.

Dr Jo North creative facilitation