Values: How Successful Companies Communicate Them

Values: How Successful Companies Communicate Them

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The last few times, we’ve talked about values, vision, and mission statements.

If you have them for yourself and your department, fine. The next logical step is that everyone needs to know them. They’re no good in your drawer.

Leading by example helps, but if it’s new, then it has to get through to the colleagues somehow. You can print great brochures. You can put posters on the wall—I’ve even seen T-shirts and other gimmicks. 

That’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s not enough as a stand-alone measure to permanently change the behaviors of a critical mass of co-workers. What’s more, it needs to get not only into your co-workers’ heads but also their hearts.

Only when it is experienced and not merely recited or read out loud can it slowly take hold. That takes time. It really takes a long time, and you need a lot of staying power. I’m not talking about weeks or months, but years:—at least two of them. 

Grass doesn’t grow faster when you pull on it. (Change management wisdom)

There is no shortcut.

So, in addition to mere knowledge, another important step is needed: people must be able to experience it. Regularly and over a long period.

For example, we introduced the “Value of the Month” as a first step. There was a motto. We then implemented that throughout the company playfully. We also rewarded people sometimes.

In this example, we set up a challenge for one of our values. One that could usually only be completed by working together as a team. We sent an email to everybody, and It looked like this:

Subject line: The Challenge


Together with your team (find your team below), think of an action for the value of the month. Present your idea (incl. plan for implementation) on 1-3 PowerPoint slides, and please send them to me by 9/19 at noon. The winning team or the action we will actually implement will be announced on 9/21 in the Weekly StandUp. Winners will be responsible for implementing the action, which should be completed by 9/29. 

Jury: Kai, Sven, me.

The prize:

Oktoberfest for you and the team! Three tables (approx. 30 seats) in the Schottenhammel Tent on Friday, 9/30, starting at 3 pm. Included: 2 beers and ½ chicken per person and a large “Brotzeitbrettl” per table. @ Cologne colleagues: You will be flown in, of course! 

The teams:

  • First Team: Product Management
  • Second Team: IT + Finance
  • Third Team: Marketing + GF/Team Assistance + HR

We cannot wait to see what you will come up with! 

Kind regards

Other formats are also suitable, such as a Lunch&Learn, where everyone regularly discusses a topic over lunch.

There’s no question about it: the lynchpin is the management team. They need to be reminded repeatedly (by you, for example) what it’s all about. They need to model these things.

One thing is very important, though.

People only change their behavior when it personally benefits them. Either they are convinced they are doing the right thing, or you have to smooth out the hurdles that prevent them from adopting a different behavior.

Whole libraries full of books have been written about change management. It’s not an easy subject, but you have to start somewhere. Better now than later. 

PS: Who actually won the Oktoberfest tables back then, and what was their idea? The value of the month was “clear communication.” The colleagues from IT and Finance (Team 2) came up with something clever in a very structured way, namely on the subject of abbreviations. Abbreviations can drive all co-workers crazy, not just the new ones. So what did they do?

The suggestion was:

  • Compile a list of the most important abbreviations
  • Make and design index cards with descriptive pictures (digital)
  • Build a company index card
  • Conduct a usability test
  • Print the index cards (laminated)

I’m sure everyone had fun and thought deeply about the value of “clear communication.”

This is how it should be.

Photo: istock

About the coach​

Kai Boyd has been a leader, trainer and facilitator since 1989. He supports leaders and their teams to work together effectively, trustfully and with ease. This involves each and everyone – in their respective roles and as people. Tailor-made formats and genuine attention enable potential to unfold and synergies to emerge.

The graduate industrial engineer, managing director and former management consultant knows the requirements of his clients from many perspectives. He works systemically, strength- and solution-oriented. Leading international teams as well as work and academic programs in the USA and the UK enable him to always contribute the international perspective.

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