Turning values into hi-viz

No-one misses a person wearing a hi-viz jacket – they stand out and with them we feel secure. We know they are performing an important job; safely. Whatever that job is.

Organisational values are just as important but they often end up gathering dust as wall hangings or mouse mats. People might be able to recite them but do they really live them?

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”– Simon Sinek

Organisational values reflect how your organisation shows up and operates in the world. And if different people show up in different way this causes ambiguity and confusion for customers – they experience a difference in what you say you believe and their own experience. In today’s competitive marketplaces helping everyone live the values will amplify your success.

So do you want your values to be more than a picture gathering dust or do you want them to be luminated in hi-viz?

How do you do that?

This quick video from Simon Sinek is great to sanity check if your values are clear enough right now.


Organisations get clear very quickly about the what they do. Many have already brought in a powerful sense of purpose or are working hard to this for all their People but values are the poor relation in the golden circle equation (Simon Sinek ‘Start with why’).

They often seem to be the thing we do for marketing  only and in doing so organisations are missing a crucial piece of the strategic jigsaw. Your values should help you define how you do what you do. They give clarity to decision making and action. They guide your beliefs and behaviours. Without them being lived in day to day practice you just hit and hope.

It is the responsibly of every manager, no matter what level to help bring the values to life in everything they do and every decision they make. Do yours? Do they even know where to begin?

So let’s start at the beginning.

  1. Your leaders need to bring values to the forefront of everything they do. Values need to guide their decision making e.g. If a value is putting customers first they don’t then skim on quality, make it difficult for a customer to contact them or reduce training in an attempt to minimise cost. They need to think more creatively about how to create the right commercial balance not take the short cut.
  2. Managers need to really understand what the values are and how they need to act to live them. So if collaboration is a core value, managers have regular team meetings. These meetings aren’t a download of information, they are genuinely structured around a collaborative process that engages people in sharing ideas and joint decision making. They also actively carve out time for peers to genuinely support each other in the day to day work. They give support and feedback to their team when an individual’s actions get in the way of genuine collaboration. They recruit people with the skills to collaborate effectively not just their ability to do the technical aspects of the job.
  3. Values into action form part of the performance review process. And the review process itself is designed based on the values so the process upholds the values and doesn’t become just a tick box exercise.
  4. Everyday behaviour is guided by values And people are confident to challenge behaviours based on values. Both strategic and operational decisions are made based on values and anyone in the organisation can question a decision based on values.
  5. All messaging whether inside or outside of the organisation are designed with values in mind So the way they look and what they say uphold those values.
  6. Explore with teams what the values mean to them Make it playful, ask questions. For example:
    • What’s important to you about the way we behave at work?
    • How would you describe to your partner  our core values? What about a child? Does it make you feel proud to be part of this company? What do we need to do better?
    • Would you want the organisation to continue to hold these values, even if at some point one or more of them became a competitive disadvantage? How would we need to manage that with customers/ shareholders/ staff?
    • What’s one thing we can do better to live these values more strongly?
  7. Share stories Help bring the values to life by sharing stories that shine a positive light on our values. Don’t be twee about it; keep it real and these can also be used for marketing.
  8. Create traditions that celebrate and build on your values e.g. if putting customers first is a value – encourage each member of staff, once a month to call or send a card/message to a customer to tell them how valued their business is.
  9. Celebrate achievements of people who have made key decisions and acted on these based on values

Go to our quick tip sheet for bringing values to life easily and consistently in work.

By putting values front and centre you create that hi-visibility that provides security that people are making the right decisions, that customers have made the right decision to commit to you and that allow people to flourish and learn to keep being better every day.