Values can play a powerful role in organizations – creating a great culture, motivating employees and attracting talent. Company values are supposed to shape the way work is done in our organizations. They are the foundation for the behaviours and actions expected of the people who do the work – at all levels.
However, many organizations have “lip service values”. You’ll find them on a poster in the entrance way or the boardroom or the kitchen, but ask an employee what they are and they’ll most likely not remember, or worse, they’ll tell you they're a joke.
Lip service values happen in two ways. The first is by having values that should be givens. Values like respect, integrity, teamwork or excellence. Do you want to work at or with a company that doesn’t just naturally believe in respect? Basic values should be expected, not something that sets us apart from other companies.
The second reason values become mere lip service is when they live only on our walls, website and marketing material. Values are meant to be our guiding light, not only helping us become successful, but also ensuring that when we are successful, we can be proud of the way we did it.
This only happens if we are all held accountable to living those values every day through our behaviours and actions – no one is given a free pass. Employees stop believing in values when don’t see them being upheld in the day-to-day environment where they work.