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How to use values to change behaviour

By Anthony Taylor - November 21, 2016

As a leader, it's your job to get your people to be on the same page and all moving in the same direction. That's why as part of your strategic plan, you likely took the time to outline your vision, mission and objectives to make sure everyone knows where the organization was trying to go.
Through that process, did you ever find there was resistance to the plan or that people didn't know what they should be doing on a day-to-day basis to move forward on this new vision? Or worse, did they just do the same things they did before your strategic planning session (and perhaps the leadership team feels like the time and money spent is wasted)?
Getting people on board with your plan is easier said than done. Including your team early on in the process can greatly help increase employee buy-in and follow through as they will understand the organizational mission and values better, and will understand how their action items will move the organization forward. This helps to build accountability, and accountable teams are better equipped to implement strategic initiatives. 

How to use values to align teams and build accountable behaviour:

Inspiring people to do things is part leadership skill, part psychology, and part frameworks and structure to support desired behaviour. 
If you follow the success stories of the business world, you've probably heard that some of the most successful companies of the past decade have built their companies on the back of a strong culture.
Whether you know it or not, you have a culture, and it's affecting everything in your organization.
This culture of yours is rooted in the behaviours, actions, and interactions of the people in your organization (and is also shaped, in part, by which types of behaviours are rewarded). 

We have values, and they are on our wall, and everyone knows them

This post is a summary of many dozens of conversations that I've had with businesses that said they had values, and that after a deeper dive they found that the values they "had" were not the values they really wanted.

Strategy can be viewed as challenging; making choices and trade offs can be more difficult than picking a bit of everything.

I understand how you might pick values like:
  • Quality
  • Fun
  • Excellence
  • Customer service
  • Work life balance
  • Respect
  • etc...

Those values can be really great if they are core parts of your business and you exemplify them in everything that you do.
My question to you is: Would your people live your values, even if you didn't have them on the wall?
Would the quality slip?
Would people no longer be respectful?
Would people no longer be excellent (whatever that means)
Values are useful to give people guidelines on how they should act.
"If I take this action, is it in line with our values?"
If yes, I should do it.
If no, I won't do it.
Why? Because that's how I'm expected to act.
When it comes to the leadership team:
Are you talking the talk?
Are you walking the walk?
Are you rewarding the right values and behaviours?
If you say you want people to act one way, but you act the opposite or reward a different type of behaviour, which behaviours do you think your people will establish?
Here are some key points to note when considering your values: 
  • Avoid values of the few over the many 
  • Avoid outside values
  • Avoid having values that are not integrated or rewarded
  • Be aware when employees don't have clarity on their personal values
  • Be aware when values are not used as an organizational compass

Avoid Vague or Weak Values

When you have values that are easy to live, that don't require any thinking from your people, you're not going to have any change. Strong values carry a strong decision making rule that make your people think:
"Is the action I'm going to take in line with what my organization and what my people expect of me?" 
As part of your strategic planning process, take the time to harness the power of values and behaviours that align with your desired vision. 

My Challenge to you

In your next strategic planning session, ask your team: "What are the values and behaviours we want exemplified in our organization?"

What are the top performers doing?

What culture do we want to replicate across the whole organization?

Take that information, be bold, and update your values appropriately. 


The Power of Habit

Below is an excerpt from the Tony Robbins Podcast where he interview's Charles Duhigg – Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times, and author of the NYT bestselling book The Power of Habit and the recently released, Smarter Better Faster – as he discusses how harnessing the power of habits can transform our businesses, our communities and our lives.


"Why do habits exist? How can they be changed? And how can they transform our lives and our businesses?

Our habit-making behaviour stands at the core of how we live our lives and how we run our businesses. As many as 40-45% of our daily activities are habits, which means that if you don’t get your habits right, you won’t reach your goals. This is why it is so critical to understand the evolution of a habit – how it is formed and how it emerges – and how to use that to your advantage. This will not only help you achieve more in your personal life. It is how your business can figure out how to get customers to change their own habits and form new ones associated with your product or store." 

Click here for the podcast.

The whole podcast is great, the core learning about teams starts at minute 29. 

Learn more about how working with a facilitator can help you make the most of your next strategy meeting: 


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