3 easy steps to building authentic core values

People always ask me about Miovision’s culture. It’s something I love to talk about, so I always welcome their questions.

This year, Miovision launched an unlimited vacation program that allows our employees to take as much vacation time as they need.  People find this program intriguing. It’s an amazing perk to working here; take as much vacation as you need, just ensure you get your job done. Simple.

Yet, after we established this program, people were very curious around the logistics. How did you set this program up? Is there a lot of administrative overhead? How do you trust that your employees won’t abuse the program?

That’s my personal favourite: How do you trust your employees?

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My question to them is, why don’t you trust your employees? It may seem like an odd question, but I guess a lot of organizations don’t believe they can. As a result, employees in return don’t trust their organizations.  Trust between employees and employers is achievable. I’ve seen it!  And I have been fortunate enough to experience it as it’s happening, and as it continues to be built.

 

I believe that building trust begins with the organization’s drive to be authentic. To develop core values that represent that authenticity that everyone is passionate about and can connect to.  

From my experience, there are three things you need to create this:image00

  1. Dedication from the leaders of the organization that an authentic culture is paramount and they will work to build core values that represent that. And not just something that sounds or looks good on the wall. Values that truly represent the company
  2. Alignment throughout the organization to those core values
  3. Communication, communication, communication – until every employee knows and believes in the core values and they become common language and part of the belief ecosystem  

Dedication

I speak to many well intentioned professionals who want to change their cultures for the better.  Yet, if they don’t have the full dedication from their leaders to build an authentic culture, their efforts will either fall short, or won’t be sustained.

By authentic, I mean they are honest and true to who they are.  Behaviors and actions that are demonstrated by the leader’s daily will organically grow throughout the organization. From the employees that kurtisare hired, to the frameworks and internal processes that are created.  Even to how they interact with one another.  Those behaviours and actions will be recognized for what they are, and the authenticity will deeply resonate. Believe me, employees will see through the lack of dedication from the leaders if it’s not there and illustrated on a daily basis, and all trust will be out the window.

At Miovision, our core values originate with our CEO.  He unapologetically embodies each one of them, whether he is speaking to an employee 1:1, is at the leadership table, a town hall, or at an event. Our core values shine through him naturally, therefore building that level of trust with our employees, who respect and resonate with it. What you see is what you get.

Alignment

Once core values are established, the next step is to align those values into every level of the organization. From the employees that are hired, the behaviors that are established and awarded, the frameworks that are developed, the perks and benefits your company endorses, even the investors and advisors you bring to the table. Leaders build a level of trust with employees by walking the talk. This was, and admittedly at times still is, the hardest step for Miovision.  It takes courage and requires some tough decisions to be made as all frameworks, programs, people and behaviors are evaluated. Do they align? How do you build that alignment? And what do you do with the frameworks, people and behaviors that don’t fit? If you can successfully build alignment to the core values through all facets of the organization, then you can build trust, because you are actually illustrating what you say you are.  It takes dedication to see it through consistently, and courage to make the tough decisions to stay true to who you are. Not easy, but required and so worth it.

image02At Miovision, after the values were established, we took a hard look at the people we had on our teams. We evaluated if we had the right team of employees that authentically aligned to them. And to be honest, we didn’t.  Therefore, we had to make some tough decisions to either actively coach employees or transition them out of the organization. This helped us remain authentic to what we established in our values. It was a tough transition for Miovision, but when we came out the other side, we had a team of people that truly aligned with the values. It makes it easy to build trust, as we have at team now that just gets it!

Communication

Communication is also imperative in this process. Employees have different forms of communication coming at them all day long. You need to think about how to make the core values stand out, relatable, and ones they can remember. At Miovision, we communicate them every chance we get, not just by posting them on our walls, or printing  them on our coffee mugs.  We talk about them at our meetings, we tell stories about each one at our town halls, we hire employees who embody them, we transition employees out who don’t, we share them within the community, and we build our frameworks and internal process’ around them.  You will be hard pressed to find an employee at Miovision who doesn’t know the core values, understand them, and base their decisions around them. In turn, we trust employees to do the right things, and they trust us to be who we say we are.

When we first implemented them, we communicated them at every town hall meeting we had for the next eight to twelve months. We consistently opened with our CEO talking about them personally to drive home the importance of what they meant.  We asked our employees for personal stories of how they saw them within the organization. This helped to solidify that the values weren’t just words on the wall; they were actually happening daily throughout every level of the organization, showcasing  how they were authentic and natural for us and that we were really walking the talk.

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So when people ask me about Miovision’s culture, or how we trust our employees to be able to offer great programs like unlimited vacation, I tell them that it needs to start with building trust by being authentic to who they truly are. Get true dedication from the leadership team to uncover and build out their authentic core values. Have the courage to consistently align to the core values and communicate them like your life depends on it. From there, you will build a culture of two-way trust that is untouchable. It is that simple. ☺