Start at the Top: How to Instill Values in Your Employees


Company values are a collection of ideas and guidelines that establish your company culture and drive your employees to daily success.

These values are essential to a company overall, but in many cases, they are only found written on the office walls or inside employee handbooks. They aren’t being talked about daily or living and breathing within the company. So how do we transform values from plain text into a way of life?

A shining example of company values and culture is Ritz Carlton. At Ritz Carlton, nine words sum up exactly how every employee is to treat their guests and fellow employees, “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” According to Forbes, ‘Every employee carries a laminated placard with the Credo. On the placard are 24 standards that drive the success of the Credo and before every shift, a manager goes over one of the points with their team. By the end of the month, they have cycled through the 24 standards. Then, it starts over.’

Ritz Carlton employees learn about the mission, vision, and values at their initial orientation and training. They are told that they could be asked at any time to present the credo card. And that applies to every employee, regardless of title. Try it the next time you’re at a Ritz.

The Ritz has won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award twice and they are consistently known as the best in their industry. What we can learn from them is that making sure all employees know and live the company’s values can directly correlate to success.

Below are 6 ways to instill company values in your employees.

  1. Start at the Top — If you ask an exec or CEO what the mission statement is, can they tell you without looking it up? If not, how can they expect their employees to know it? Leaders need to be the most obvious cheerleaders of their own values. They should completely match up with company culture and be excited about it. Starting conversations from the top down with employees about values is a great way to get it going. Your employees will not buy it if their leaders aren’t.
  2. Consider Your Values When Hiring — Experience and skills are major priorities when hiring, but looking for people who align culturally with your values and your vision is just as crucial. If they believe in what you’re doing, they will add meaningful energy to your business. Use the buzzwords from your company values in your interview questions, let them know what you are looking for, and show them what you are about.
  3. Provide Context — Where did your values come from? Who created them? Employees will care more if they know the story behind the words and they will be more likely to talk about the values with others. Make time to explain during training and on-boarding. Set up seminars or workshops that correlate with your values and help your employees gain more insight into what they mean and how they can be carried out.

  4. Consider Your Values During Performance Reviews — This is a great way to get employees to realize how incorporating your values will help them excel within the company and set them up for success. Shaping the review and discussion around values will help the company grow in the direction that you want it to. In addition, terminate employees that don’t live the values to set a tone for the workplace.
  5. Reward and Promote — Create spaces for employees to be in the spotlight for living out the values of your company. Include blurbs in your newsletter. Allow employees to nominate others. Whatever you do, if your employees are living out your values, make sure to recognize their behavior and the positive impacts it has.
  6. Be Constant — This is not a one and done kind of thing. Think back to how Ritz Carlton starts over each month and focuses on different aspects of their founding principles. Find ways to communicate effectively and consistently.

Company values and culture ultimately make up who you are and where you’re headed. Let your employees ring your values loud and true by developing strategies that make this possible.

See Also:

Getting to the Core of Company Values

High-Level Executive: How to Nourish the Future Leaders of Your Business

Why We Go To Work: What It Means for Companies and Employees

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