Want your employees to embody your company values? Make sure you have the following pieces in place to start:
- Develop a distinct brand that is reflected internally and externally. Passion and purpose won’t shine through to your customers unless it’s first absorbed by your employees. When we say employees should be living the purpose, we mean it. And it should be natural. Weave it into internal newsletters, feature it on the company intranet, represent it in training programs, and work it into recognition programs and performance tracking measures.
- Document and communicate your mission — and often. Have a stated mission and purpose, and always be talking about them. Communicate these elements during the hiring process, and be sure you’re hiring people who believe in the mission. I once worked for a family-owned business where memorizing the mission statement and values was part of new-employee orientation. At any point thereafter, you could be expected to be put on the spot by the company founder to recite the mission or values … word perfect. If you did, you got $100 cash. Every single employee — all 100+ of us — knew that mission statement. It was on the wall, on the back of our business cards and firmly engraved in our minds. I can recite it even today.
- Develop an editorial style guide that includes tone. At a tactical level, you need to make sure that anyone producing copy on behalf of your organization gets your values and purpose and how they should be communicated through voice and tone. Make sure you have a solid section on this in your style guide. Address such questions as: How should we be talking about our purpose? What does that sound like? Are we academic and authoritative? Informal and approachable? Casual and whimsical?