Dying to know how to bring your company core values to life? Find out how the (not so secret) art of employee recognition is your recipe for success.

Core values are critical..

..to creating a culture that is ready for success. Despite common practice, throwing your company’s core values on a website or poster does not create lasting change. However, there is a way to foster core values, and it all comes back to recognition.

Has your organization attempted to implement a new set of core values?

It starts with a few meetings, proceeds into “hype” campaigns, and then falls flat on its face. Two years later, you look back on progress only to see your company culture has remained the same.

It’s a safe assumption that most organizations struggle to successfully implement new core values. So what’s the secret? What causes some organizations to create an inspiring company culture built on core values whereas others fail?

Create a recognition strategy that recognizes the behaviors aligned with your core values.

Core values are an essential part of every organization, and should serve as a guide to your company’s culture.

Your recognition strategy should reward and recognize behaviors that align with your core values. Why? Because recognizing these right behaviors will create lasting change.

The goal with recognition is to promote the right behaviors so we can create a consistent culture that exudes our core values.

For example, let’s say that a core value of yours is extreme ownership.

Let’s say John (your employee) told you about a customer service call that went horribly and explained exactly what happened, not withholding any of his mistakes and taking responsibility for everything.

This scenario would be a great time to recognize John for his extreme ownership.

Great results come from a great plan.

Document your recognition strategy for the biggest results.

As most business professionals know, a plan that sits in your head is less likely to come to fruition than one that is documented. Your recognition strategy is no exception.

We could get into the weeds of documenting your entire recognition strategy, but we want to steer you to an action plan that can be started today.

The exercise.

  1. List out your core values on a piece of paper
  2. Under each core value, write 5 behaviors that align with each.

This simple exercise is not all-encompassing, but it will get you in the right mindset to successfully implement a recognition strategy. We’ve even created a template for you to use during this process.

[You can download the Core Values Behavior Exercise by clicking here.]

You know what to recognize, now how should you recognize?

There are hundreds of ways you can recognize behavior around your company’s core values. As you can probably assume, saying “thank you” is often not enough.

While words of affirmation can be a powerful way to recognize someone’s hard work, it is imperative to be very specific about what you are applauding.

Take a look at the example below. Let’s say we are thanking John for a job well done.

John – You are the best. I appreciate everything you do for us. Keep it up!

This statement is vague and doesn’t dive into what John did that deserved recognition.

Your recognition will be more impactful if you follow the following pillars:

Be Specific: Outline exactly what someone has done that deserves the recognition and how they went above and beyond.

Tie the behavior to a core value: Explain how the behavior aligns to a core value so that they understand how it fits into the bigger picture of your culture.

Explain why the behavior is important to the bigger picture of the company: Share how behaviors like this will impact your company on a larger scale.

Now look at this example and compare to the first. See the difference?

John – thank you for taking ownership on not communicating effectively last week. You had to swallow some pride and keep the bigger picture of our team in mind. This reminds me of our core value extreme ownership because you took 100% responsibility for what you did and placed the blame on nobody else besides yourself. This kind of behavior is what has and will take our company to the next level.

Get started now.

If you leverage core values as part of your company’s DNA and are involved in everything you do, they will emerge as the guiding light to your company culture.

No more forcing company culture upon your team; your ideal culture will organically grow based on your strategic recognition program.

Your recognition strategy needs to be aligned with your core values so that you can intentionally create the right company culture. The behaviors may not happen frequently at first, but you have to start somewhere. The more time goes on, and the more you reward for that value, the more frequently it will occur.

This post was written by Michael Caraway, Director of Operations at Wishlist