3 tips to ensure your company values are being lived

The best companies understand the importance of establishing a clear set of values for their people. Values are the foundation of strong culture and act as a north star for a company. 

Getting them right can come at significant investment of time, money and resources. 

Chances are they feature on staff onboarding material, the company website, brochures, banners, recruitment material, social media and more. As they should.

But (there’s always a but!) at the end of the day none of this matters if your values are not actually being lived by your team.

If your people aren’t living your values, if they aren’t a part of your company's DNA, then to be honest, they’re nothing more than a hollow marketing message.

There are some simple things you can do to ensure your values become embedded in your company DNA.

Tip 1: Limit values to 5 

Limiting the number of values to 5 just makes life easier for your people. Easier to know what is expected of them and easier to align their behaviours to those expectations. 

A limit also forces you to prioritise, to think critically and to focus on what really matters.

For what it’s worth, the majority of Fortune 500 companies have 5 company values. 

Tip 2: Make your company values actionable

Accompany your company values with a clear set of behaviours that align with each value. A roadmap of sorts to help your people live the company values.

Companies that do this well will also define different sets of behaviours at different levels of the organisation for the same value. For example “Acting with integrity” will require a different set of behaviours for the CEO than a junior employee. Capturing these differences will help everyone in the organisation align their behaviours to the values. 

Tip 3: Measure the alignment of your teams with your values

If your values are actionable, then they are also measurable, which is critical to “knowing” if your values are being lived.

The best way to measure alignment is through peer feedback. People that work closely provide a great source of insight into each other and offer a trusted source of validation. 

It’s important however to remove bias from this measurement. So make sure you’re asking teams to capture feedback from a wide range of people and that they capture this feedback on a monthly basis so you can track values alignment over time.

I think we can all agree that it’s a good thing that the days of putting your values on an inspirational wall poster are well and truly over!