Using Values-Based Communication to Reinforce Your Culture

Communication is critical in our hyper-connected world. Companies focus so much time and money on their external messaging, refining and selecting their advertising lingo, brand promise, phraseology, and style. However, few organizations consider how influential their daily internal messaging is in determining the mindset and outputs of their team members.

In a recent blog, our Founder & President discussed internal communication as the most important tool in creating and fostering company culture. The way in which we communicate as well as the content of the messages that we send can either serve to strengthen or to degrade the culture that we have in place.

By carefully crafting messages that emphasize shared company values and the culture of the organization, companies can instill and reinforce their values to nurture the common ground of the company culture. So, before you send that next newsletter or hastily written office memo, consider the following values-based communication best practices for business.

Start & Finish with Values

Review values before crafting communications. Keep them at the forefront of your mind as messages are phrased. While company values will eventually become familiar and guide your communication inherently, it’s always a good idea to pause and reflect on their implications for each company-wide written communication that goes out.

Example

If one of your values is brevity, then your message should be attentive to word count, simply written, and concise. However, if your company values thoroughness, you should list details, clarify miscommunications and related ideas, and thoroughly deep-dive into the information with peripheral citations and even inspirational quotes. Regardless of your specific company values, you should be able to subliminally demonstrate them within the communication.

Teach & Demonstrate

By calling attention to a specific value in communications, you can utilize the opportunity to train team members on the implications and associated behaviors of a value. Consider highlighting a value by stating, “As you know, one of our company values is X, so we will be doing Y,” or, “A team member is being recognized for exceptional leadership in X, one of our company values.”

Example

If you are announcing a company picnic that is also a canned food drive for a local shelter and two of your company values are community and civic engagement, then lead with the opportunities to support a shelter and strengthen ties to the community; don’t lead with a Hawaiian theme, the band that’s playing, or a reminder to bring cash for raffle tickets. Communicate what really matters first and then include details later (like a newspaper article).

Structure Meetings Around Values

Your face-to-face communication needs to be guided by your values as well. When considering your strategy for team meetings, structure them in a way that reflects your company values, as well as the best practices that we outlined in this recent blog. Be sure to give your team members an opportunity to represent company values during meetings as well.

Example

One best practice that is widely recognized, especially in a customer-centric environment, is the morning meeting. Not only can morning meetings help everyone align their goals and motives for the day, but they can also be a chance for everyone to connect around company values. Consider going around the circle and inviting each person to share a specific example of how they have demonstrated one of the company values in their work in the last 24 hours; this helps keep those values at the forefront of each team member’s mind.

Let Values Shape Performance

Values should shape communication in a one-on-one setting as well. A strong performance strategy involves informal feedback, ongoing recognition, and holding team members accountable by having the “tough discussions” we talked about in detail in a past blog. Highlight values in each of these situations as a measurement tool for performance.

Example

When it comes time to develop a formal recognition program, ensure that you implement your values into the measurement as well as the execution of that program. Recognition should include specific feedback for the individual relating to the values that they have worked to represent. For example, if one of your values is “Learn,” be sure to specifically note an instance of the individual going above and beyond their daily duties to learn and develop their skills.

Consistency Proves Authenticity

A Gallup article from this month stated that only 27% of U.S. employees would say that they “believe in” their company’s values – could that be because we just aren’t communicating them well and often enough?

By consistently demonstrating values in communications and conscientiously highlighting them for readers, you can build trust with team members. The team will come to understand that values and the company culture are not a flavor of the month initiative and that instead, they influence every decision and strategy the company supports. When we consistently communicate that values drive team member selection and recognition initiatives, strategies and plans for the future, and our interactions with customers, the team will believe in the values and culture.

Example

Always incorporate at least one value into your communication so that team members understand that values are a priority. Even one hasty, off-culture communication can send a message to the team that you aren’t serious about the values and culture.

Benefits of Values-Based Communication

Encouraging your whole organization to practice values-based communication will benefit all involved. When managers lead by example, team members will follow suit. As values become embedded into every piece of communication, everyone in the organization will gain a greater understanding of and commitment to all that the brand promises. In addition, when crafting external communication or speaking with customers or external partners, teams will be better equipped to represent the company with strong values-based messaging.

Values-based discourse creates credibility, refreshes and reinforces values, and justifies decisions and new policies by adding the context of the company culture. By following these best practices companies can ensure they are communicating a message that is steeped in the values of the organization and aligned with long-term goals. If your company needs assistance aligning communications or other cultural mechanisms, then reach out to SGEi for a free consultation.

Thanks for reading.

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