People want to feel like they are contributing to a mission that aligns with core values. As a leader, to drive alignment you’ve got to have those around you not only buy into that mission but buy into the vision of how the team will get to the finish line. In today’s market, it has become common place that organizations’ stated values are so off from the reality of the day-to-day employee experience, and that is causing burnout, frustration, and eventual turnover. If you are the executive and/or leader of a growing company, here are some tips to better align your values with your vision—getting critical input, feedback, and buy in along the way.
Lead by Example
Leadership itself is inherently a process where one, or a group of individuals can influence the attitudes, behaviors, and actions of others. From an employee’s perspective, there is no skill more valuable than a leader willing to roll up their sleeves and help their team. Equally as critical however, is the ability for that leader to incorporate feedback, understand the ambitions of their team members, and provide the resources to help get them there. Nothing makes individuals feel more valued than having their opinion heard and witnessing actionable outcomes that reflect their concerns. Do not allow your team’s feedback to fall on deaf ears, it’ll put you in a bad spot.
Building Trust with the Team
You are the one that has the ability to give a glimmer of hope and lead your team to that end. When you make a commitment, it is vital that you live up to that commitment. As a leader your credibility will be a valuable tool and if you lose it, it has dire consequences. There are several ways to build trust with your team, but it can start with having open and honest conversations broadly with the team. Express your own fears and challenges—it’ll make people more comfortable with opening up. Do not get defensive if you hear something you don’t like, by switching to a defensive mindset you are shutting the door on a valuable learning experience for yourself. Chances are if one person feels a certain way, there are many others. If you want to have a successful organization built around transparency and trust, it’s also vital to let your team make mistakes—they are learning opportunities and if you constantly nitpick, your team is going to be comprised of people too scared to take the risks necessary to grow faster.
Identifying Internal Influencers
Identifying change champions and influencers with your organization is critical. These are the ones your various team members look to after a meeting, a pivot, or a big announcement. They have the pulse on their teams and serve as a conduit to process strategic information and leverage the buy in they have for the betterment of the company. It’s vital you and your change champions build strong relationships built upon trust, transparency, and mutually agreed upon motions. If your influencers feel good about the mission and vision, there’s a good chance the rest of your organization will follow.
Commit to the Values of your Organization
Employees want to believe in the values set forth by an organization. They’ve become a valuable recruitment tool for both potential candidates and potential customers. No one wants to feel duped and that’s exactly what can happen if you don’t live to your values each and every day. It’s mission critical to turn those values into the guiding principles of your organization. Values feel food, guiding principles let your team members know how to address a situation without policy constraints. Likewise, you must commit to these values and exude them across every facet of your organization. Nothing can erode trust and commitment faster than a leader or leadership team that lives by the antithesis of a company’s core values. It’s dishonest and toxic—and your best employees will take notice.
Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce
Again, as the leader of an organization, it is on you to live the mission, values, and vision of your company. You must own them day in and day out, even when things get tough. Take the time to conduct an open and honest audit of your internal values. Where do employees feel like the company is falling short? What can you do about it? When you set out on this mission, incorporate the feedback from your team to practice communicating the values more effectively. At the end of the day, when you have solidified the mission and values of your organization (and these may change over time, it’s completely normal!), you must constantly reinforce those values. The only two ways to go about that: 1. communicate clearly and 2. live those values through and through.