The definition of the word Values (in this context) is ‘Principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.’ So why does Values campaigns often fall flat and fail to engage? It should be easy to define what’s important when it comes to ‘how we do things round here’ but here at the ICT we find it’s still a real sticking point; from launching or relaunching to embedding them. Here are our five tips for success:
Involve your employees in creating them
The best examples of Values working well, in my experience, are where employees help to decide what they are and what they mean. Doing things from the bottom up can often do the embedding for you.
Make the Values exciting and different
Without devaluing Values (see what I did there) in our experience, they are often relatively generic/bland, so to save them being uninspiring ‘motherhood and apple pie’, try and be different and make them more exciting, simple and relevant. If you’re going to have a value like ‘Customer First’, use examples to bring it to life for people and give them absolute clarity over what that means in reality and how to live it in their daily work and decision-making. And don’t have too many, four to five is about right.
Get ready for the launch!
Today: Get ready for the launch! It’s surprising how many businesses introduce Values but don’t
invest time and effort in an effective launch, or launch them in some parts of the business and not others. We recommend launching them to everyone at the same time using a multi-channel approach with face to face at its heart, so that your people have a consistent experience and message. Also, don’t forget to add them to the section of your website that will be viewed by potential employees – a meaningful set of values will help you in attracting people who are aligned with them and ready to live them once on board.
Ensure leadership live and breathe them
If the Exec team can’t be bothered to live and breathe the Values, why should anyone else? You need them to be leading by example if you want the Values to be embedded in your organisation. If the CEO does a regular blog, get them to talk about the Values and how decisions have been made with them in mind. Make sure they praise people who are living the Values. Holding Town Hall events? Find a way to weave the Values into the presentation. Values need to be leadership led.
Refer to them in communications
Refer to the Values in everything! If you have a recognition scheme based on the Values, recognise people at face to face events and tell stories about the people who’ve been recognised in your channels. Make them prominent on your intranet and if you have an ESN, encourage people to post on the Values. Weave them into your people stories: “Tracey from Accounts showed Integrity when she took on this project”. You could even segregate parts of your eZine into sections that relate to the values and. If your performance management process has incorporated the Values, highlight it when you’re campaigning to engage people in the process.
Get in touch if you need support with communicating your Values, reviewing your internal comms, or even just some interim resource.
ICT team member Sophie is a double-award winning internal communications professional with almost ten years’ experience, previously named in the top 30 under 30 by the Institute of Internal Communication. Sophie is currently available for client assignments.
We have done some interesting internal communications reviews recently for clients like Financial Ombudsman Service, Kronos Inc. EMEA region and Innovation Group. We thought it’d be useful to share the top themes with you.
The dreaded intranet
While this is not ‘new’ it is still top of the charts for ‘improvement needed’. It feels like all businesses went out and got an intranet 10-15 years ago and they haven’t nurtured it, so it’s often now a jumbled list of poorly presented words and documents on an outdated platform which no-one can navigate! Would you leave your website unchanged for 10 years? Exactly! There’s no excuse for this: there are some fantastic options for social intranets around, including Interact, Unily and EasySharepoint. Don’t forget to resource it properly, though, otherwise the same thing could happen again…
Push / pull balance
Interestingly, we’ve gone from everyone wanting to ‘pull’ all their news and information, to employees feeling so confused about where to go to stay up to date that they now want it sent to them. I guess because everything is at our fingertips in our personal lives, people want that personalised experience at work and want news digested for them and easy to access. Don’t get me wrong, people still want to pull from an intranet but the need for a regular, snappy email digest of important news is a common theme in our reviews.
In our reviews we’re finding that people want constant conversations and connection with both the leadership team and their colleagues across the business – both face to face and online. Twice yearly ‘set piece’ employee events just don’t cut it anymore! We regularly talk to clients about ‘rhythm and drumbeat of communications’ and the importance of maintaining a dialogue across face to face and supporting channels.
What’s the story?
Employees want and need to feel part of something, understand the story and direction of the business and its identity, and for various reasons organisations don’t seem to be getting this right lately. I personally think this isn’t far enough up Exec teams’ priorities. Once discussed and agreed, the story should be told and reflected throughout your communications, making it relevant and engaging.
Managers as a channel
It’s still all too common for managers to be on the back foot when it comes to comms; from finding out news at the same time as teams, to not being part of a cascade process. It’s so important to engage your managers and equip them with segmented channels to engage their teams. They are the link from the senior team messages to the people and vice versa. And the vice versa bit is critical – communication is two-way of course….
When you think how important this is to get right, it’s amazing to us how many organisations struggle to get this right – whether it’s setting out a change journey for people or communicating some structural changes with people impact. Key to getting it right is having experienced, dedicated resources planning the communications. No point in spending millions on your transformation if you don’t communicate it well and the change then lands badly – or not at all! We think this is one of the key areas where internal comms teams can demonstrate their value to their organisation.
Do these themes sound familiar to you? Why not see how we can help you with an internal comms review. Find out more.