Vision, Mission, Values: What about behaviors?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Tactics to improve the impact of your value statement on corporate culture.

'Corporate Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast'

Very often, Vision/Mission/Value development is done out of the context of what the company wants to achieve. In a worst-case scenario you end up with three separate entities: 1) your Vision/Mission/Values statement, 2) your strategy, and 3) your company. The old adage, "Corporate culture eats strategy for breakfast" is true for 80% of the strategies that fail.

The key to overcoming these issues is how you deal with values.

There are two tactics that deal with the value statement that can improve the impact of your value statement on your corporate culture:

Tactic #1. Define values in a way that that resonates emotionally with people from different cultures.

Words like "Customer-Centric", "Ethics", and "Integrity" are different in different parts of the world. In some cultures there is no word for "Integrity." In others, the closest word is more about how a person appears to others than it is about how closely they hold their internal values. If you choose values, you'd better make sure that everyone in the company has the same understanding of them, and feels that they can embrace them.

Tactic #2. Define your values with behaviors.

Instead of defining your values with a list of words that describe the value, which can be impossible to make emotionally relevant to all of your staff, define your values with behaviors. Ask every one of your staff a simple question: "If I followed you around for a week or two, what behavior would I need to look for that would prove to me that you are living out this value?" Then work with them to make sure that the value gets drilled into their behavior.

That doesn't mean just writing it down in your "Policy & Procedures" file or including it in your "Employee Handbook." You have to allow the staff, with all the cultural variety that you have on board in multi-national organizations, to define what the values mean, and have to have a system to reinforce that behavior on a regular basis.

The desired behaviors have to be built by the whole organization. They has to be celebrated, and reinforced by the whole organization through different forms of media, different creative processes, and through 'celebration time' to reward and celebrate those that have lived out those values.

The outcome: a value statement that influences behavior, enables decisions and creates boundaries.

Companies would be wise to take at least three years to build these values into the organization. Then these behavioral statements become decision-enablers that create boundaries around what is acceptable and unacceptable in the organization. Once that happens, your staff will start to say "This is the way we do things around here," and your value will be integrated into your company culture and ready to support strategy. This is hard to do, but once achieved, it creates a lot of positive innovation, creativity, energy, and belonging in the organization. Through that, it tackles issues that are essential for a healthy inter-cultural corporate environment: a common purpose, social capital, clear communication, and trust.

Contact us to learn more about how to build your corporate culture and use your vision and mission to impact behaviors.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Related Posts

See All