Most companies have some sort of corporate standard document. But often, these values are fun little blurb that sounds beautiful but lacks the detail to direct the day-to-day performance of employees.
Perhaps one of your core values is teamwork; Does it sound like something like, “When we collaborate and work together we achieve more and build better”? This is a great corporate value, but ask yourself honestly, does it really help employees understand certain behaviors that they should display on a daily basis?
It is not your fault that there are many employees who do not know how to implement your core values. Counselors always tell executives that values should be higher and more accurate. But what those counselors didn’t know was that real-world people want transparency; They don’t want slogans, they want direction.
In the new Leadership IQ study, only 24% of companies describe in detail why certain standards are needed to protect their company’s values. But companies that have literally described this behavior in detail, their employee engagement is literally 107% higher than those companies that did not do that job.
It is compelling to listen, however, as it raises questions about how those specific behaviors can be elaborated. Word Picture is a technique where you draw a clear behavioral verbal picture that tells employees exactly what behaviors with a core quality look like, divided into three levels: “need work,” “good work” and “great work.” These three levels teach employees what behaviors they must behave in order to survive and which behaviors will violate those values.
Let’s take the teamwork corporate value. The general boardroom version reads something like, “We achieve more and build better when we collaborate and work together.” But with the detailed behavior specified in a word picture, the core values of that teamwork will now be more detailed and may include the following specifications:
If you are an employee who will help you show more teamwork: Saying “we gain more when we collaborate” or have certain behaviors that you should and shouldn’t show?
Imagine how quickly you can overcome bad teamwork if you can teach employees that they shouldn’t pay more attention to their phone than their coworkers, or that they shouldn’t say, “You can decide, I don’t care.”
And consider how quickly you can train people in teamwork by teaching them to find ways to show respect for the views of others, perhaps by saying, “Let’s work together to come up with a solution” or “Are you willing to share with me alone?” “
Parenthetically, if you’ve ever considered embedding your values in a performance review, it’s quicker when you describe specific behaviors in detail as a word picture.
How you define specific behaviors is up to you, as long as they help employees understand the core values of teamwork (or something else) that are necessary for survival. One of the tests to determine if you have adequately defined your core values with a word picture is if you can quickly grade your own behavior.
I’m sure everyone can read the details of Needs Work and think of a few examples where we have shown unwanted behavior. Relatedly, I’m sure everyone who reads this article will also find examples where you have shown great work ethic.
If you can break your corporate values into specific behaviors that each employee can use to manage their day-to-day activities, you have positioned yourself to achieve 107% higher employee engagement. It is incredibly painful for employees to spend hours guessing what teamwork or honesty or accountability means. But if you can turn those corporate values into specific behaviors, you can achieve a level of clarity and clarity that almost all employees desire.