Values help align all employees behind shared ways of thinking and acting. In a perfect world, they lead directly to competitive advantage and distinctiveness, linking employee behavior and organizational success.
More commonly, however, core values can fall a little short. This is particularly true when those core values aren’t embedded in the everyday experience of work, when they are unrelated to what drives success for the organization, or both.
One way to avoid both problems is to leverage a social recognition solution that is aligned to core values.
First, recognition allows colleagues to recognize each other on the basis of living core values through daily behavior and examples of positive performance. It takes advantage of top-down as well as bottom-up dynamics to spread an understanding of what the core values mean to the organization.
For example, leaders can effectively call attention to behaviors that embody the core values as they envision them, establishing an effective cascading process that can transmit them down through the organization. Perhaps less traditionally, but no less important, colleagues’ recognition of each other can broaden an understanding of what values-aligned behavior looks like and how core values can be applied across different areas or geographies within the company.
Both sets of dynamics establish a strong sense of ownership of the core values, as it becomes everyone’s responsibility to not only demonstrate them in their own work, but to recognize their colleagues for doing likewise.
Second, social recognition provides a valuable feedback mechanism that allows leaders to actively manage and improve how core values are being lived.
The data created by recognition moments can provide leaders and managers with insights into which core values are being recognized, how often, and how their definition may change over time or across locations. As the pace of business increases, it is vitally important to ensure that the core values remain relevant to business success over time.
If needed, core values can be re-emphasized, re-prioritized, or re-framed to align to strategic imperatives or market shifts. Corresponding shifts in the recognition data provides a pulse of how effective such initiatives are and where additional attention or communication needs to occur.
In short, social recognition provides a way for companies to realize the benefits of their core values while remaining adaptable and quickly adjusting the behaviors of an aligned workforce.
How does your company help to reinforce its core values and ensure they remain relevant to organizational success?
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.