ARLINGTON, VA.—From phony customer accounts created by Wells Fargo to Mylan’s sky-high pricing on the EpiPen device, “bad behavior” by employees was a hot business topic in 2016. No industry—broadcasters included—is exempt from these kinds of issues.
For those of us in the business of organizational culture, scandals like these present an opportunity to ask important questions about organizational values: Do they really matter? Are employees genuinely engaged in the values? Are core values driving employee behavior and organizational performance?
Q: Do you know about your company's core values?
At a time when the broadcast industry faces increasing competition for skilled technical talent while also dealing with transitions from an ageing technical workforce, it is more important than ever to understand how core values motivate employees to perform, grow and stay. Most broadcast organizations and stations have mission and values statements that they share with their employees. However, do managers model and live up to their organization’s values and understand the importance of organizational core values in building and retaining their workforce? Do employees know and model the values of their organization?
At the end of 2016, Eagle Hill Consulting conducted a survey to explore those questions. The findings are striking.
FIRST, THE BAD NEWS
In our survey, nearly half of working age Americans—47 percent—said they do not know or are not sure about their company’s core values.
That suggests that a significant share of the workforce is disconnected from their employer’s core values, which should drive all corporate behavior, culture and policies. Without a shared ideal to guide behavior, an organization can become the “wild west”—with each individual deciding what’s acceptable and rendering the organization vulnerable to crisis.
THE GOOD NEWS
Among those who know their company’s core values, 89 percent said that the values indeed drive their behavior. The challenge, then, is to embed core values into the DNA of employees and the culture. That’s how the “west” is won: when values-based behavior becomes second nature.
Q: Do these core values drive your decisions and behaviors at work?
MOVING FROM WHAT TO HOW
What does it take to instill core values throughout a workforce? It isn’t enough to give employees a copy of the values statement during on-boarding, to send out emails or to cheerlead about the values at an annual meeting. Embedding values into the organizational DNA requires an ongoing multifaceted dialogue with employees. Organizations thrive when discussion moves beyond the “what” of the values on to the “how” employees deliver on them.
EMBEDDING CORE VALUES: THREE KEY TACTICS
Ready to infuse your core values through your workforce and culture? Here are three simple tactics we’ve found effective at Eagle Hill:
1) Start the values conversation before hiring
The values dialogue should begin with how and whom you hire. Seek out employees with personal values that align with your corporate values. Start by identifying interview questions related to your culture and core values. Ask all recruits the same values-related questions and evaluate each candidate against the same rubric. It’s a proven way to determine if a candidate is likely to align naturally with your culture and values and you’ve begun the values discussion before the employee starts.
2) Lead the way
Values always come from the top, so make sure your company leaders establish the values, have an open dialogue with employees about them and visibly live them—in words and actions. Consider using internal social media to seed the values dialogue. Social media is ideal as an “up and down” communication tool, fueling opportunities to highlight employees at every level whose behaviors embody your core values.
3) Measure it
At a macro level, what’s the best way to understand if values are driving your business and corresponding behaviors? Ask your people. This isn’t about “testing” whether or not employees can parrot back a laundry list. Instead, engage your people about what’s happening on the ground when it comes to delivering on core values. Consider regular surveys where employees can respond anonymously. Then share the findings broadly and loudly. Use the results to pinpoint strengths and expose what needs improvement. And, engage your people on ideas for building and executing improvement plans.
John McCoskey is Industry Lead Executive – Communications, Media & Technology at Eagle Hill Consulting in Arlington, Va. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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