Originally posted at www.thebusinessmediator.blogspot.com

It seems that many employees are increasingly disgruntled by their employer’s failure to “walk the talk”. When an organization proclaims
it believes in something, but then behaves in a way that is contrary to
those beliefs, the results are dire. Just today, I heard an example of a
company communicating to its employees that it had instituted a process
for global sales to promote fairness and transparency; however, when
the process was not followed and worse yet, employees were hurt
financially, the company turned its back on its values by not enforcing
the policy against the offending employees. The reaction to this lapse,
predictably, was that the negatively impacted employees did not want to
follow the process the next time (and perhaps even to sabotage it!)
Morale plummeted, trust in the process was lost, and no incentive
remained to pursue similar sales in the future. In one fell swoop, the
organization created a credibility gap.

Living your core values is more than putting a poster on the office wall, or holding a
session to “embed” the values in the organization. Indeed, even if you
are successful in aligning your employees around the values of your
organization, it only takes one misstep (like the one above) to unwind
all the good work that the organization has done to create that
alignment. Put simply, the organization is just one behavior away from
destroying a positive reputation that may have taken years to build.
So, how can an organization ensure that it is walking the talk

First, and foremost—ensure that all members of your leadership team demonstrate your organization’s core values in
everything they do. If they do not, you might as well not read any
further. Leaders are like amplifiers—if they are aligned they will
produce resonance—if not aligned, the organization will hear static and
will block out what is being communicated. Second, empower your
employees to raise concerns about behaviors that are inconsistent with
your values, without fear of backlash. You can designate someone in
your organization or on its leadership team to champion these values.
Encourage your employees to share their views and call out inconsistent
behaviors, even if these behaviors originate with your leadership.
Third, make sure that you follow up and follow through on these
legitimate concerns. This will create credibility with your employees
and promote an ethic of accountability. For example, if you value
“respect for all people”, then allowing harassment or demeaning conduct
in any form would not be tolerated. Finally, only hire and retain
employees who demonstrate the core values of your organization. People
are who they are—either they share your values or they do not. So, hire
and keep people who reflect, rather than detract, from who you are. As
Patrick Lencioni teaches—your values should be the immutable parameters
of your hiring decisions.

On a personal note, I lost my father about a week or so ago. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the
support we received by the many, many people who loved him. I heard
wonderful stories about how my dad helped people when they were down,
how he made them laugh, how he taught them to love, how he made them
feel special. These were my dad’s values: showing love, being a friend,
helping others, and keeping his family safe and secure. He lived them
every day. I saw these even more clearly after he died and realized
that your values are what define you. It reflects who you are and who
you are not. Organizations, like people, need to live their values each
and every day. These values define who they and what their legacy will
be. So, go be inspired to create your legacy. It is the foundation
upon which your organization rests.

Views: 136

Comment by Kipp McKenzie on November 19, 2010 at 8:33pm
Hello Mrs. Diehl,

I am sorry to hear about your father. My condolences to you and your family. And this blog is right on target. One does need to live their values each day, and not be swayed by the negativity that permeates the fabric of the environment they are currently residing in.
Comment by Noam Ebner on November 20, 2010 at 11:03am
Susan - I'm so sorry to hear that. It was so powerful to hear how the way he lived his life rippled back to support you in these very hard days. Stay strong. Noam
Comment by Susan M Diehl on November 20, 2010 at 2:32pm
Thanks for your kind words Noam and Kipp.
Comment by John C. Turley on November 21, 2010 at 11:33am
I will remember your father in my prayers. I have encountered the same disconnect between stated and actual values within the Fortune 100 Companies. It is disconcerting.

Comment by Jeff Thompson on November 21, 2010 at 11:39am
My condolences for your loss. Although i never met your your father, i assure you his values live on- in you you! I fortunate enough to know you and can honestly (and publicly) say you possess those same traits.

I am happy you shared this with us and happy to have called you a classmate and now friend.



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