Because beliefs and values form the heart of an organization’s culture, great leaders never miss an opportunity to reinforce them. They know that once internalized, these beliefs and values affect the norms that influence day-to-day actions, determine what’s important, reinforce appropriate behavior, and change attitudes.
If these norms are to be institutionalized, management must support them by clear and visible actions. Therefore, management must live these values in their heads and their hearts. Otherwise, they may be inconsistent in applying them, or worse, fail to promote them in times of stress. If commitment is perceived as rhetoric without substance, the effort will fail.
Questions that can be answered include:
- Does the company value ethical behavior over short-term business? If it’s the last day of the sales month, and the numbers look miserable, are people encouraged to do what’s best for the client or close the sale––even if it may jeopardize the long-term relationship with the client?
- Are people rewarded only for the bottom-line performance or for the development of their people as well? Stories should show how individuals made it to the top of the organization while keeping the best interests of others in mind—rather than stepping on those in their way.
- Do people live up to their promises? Was a promise made and kept to a client even though circumstances changed after the promise was made? This sends a message to all employees, as well as clients, that the organization can be trusted.
- Are relationships lasting or made out of convenience? From a negative standpoint, are there stories about managers who disowned employees after they were promoted or transferred to another part of the organization?
- Are employees treated with understanding when taking care of a sick child or parent?
- What happens to someone who was once the star performer but who is now having a streak of bad breaks?