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Build a Plan to Bring Your Culture and Values to Life

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you'll be able to:

  • Define your values story.
  • Explore ways to bring your company’s values to life.
  • Understand how you can lead by example.

Define Your Values Story

Now that you understand why culture matters, and how we bring ours to life at Salesforce, are you ready to get started on bringing your company culture to life? Great! The first step is defining and communicating your culture and values story in simple terms so everyone in your company can align on it and use it as a guide.

Note

Note

Don’t have clear values yet? If you’re at a startup, about to start your own company, or are at a company that hasn’t gotten there yet, download the “Identify Your Values—Tips & Techniques” from the Salesforce Ohana Culture pack to define your values.

There are a number of data sources you can use to define (or evolve) the most compelling story of who you are, what you value, and how you work together, including:

  • Common phrases people use to describe your culture in employer reviews
  • Answers to questions about your culture on your employee engagement survey
  • Focus groups with your leaders and culture champions at all levels

Defining your culture and values story is one thing, but living it is another. Some companies paint cool images of their values on walls, while others send all employees a glossy brochure… or both. Although there’s nothing wrong with being a little flashy, simply communicating the values doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll come to life.

Build a Plan to Live Your Story

Build a plan to live your culture story inside and outside your company. Include measurable programs and tools plus communications, campaigns, and events to bring your values to life at every stage of the employee journey.

Graphic showing the stages of the employee journey—attraction, recruiting, onboarding, experience, loyalty, and advocacy.

Commitment Is Key

It starts with commitment. This means making some tough decisions along the way. Imagine a top sales associate who time after time demonstrates a lack of integrity, and that’s one of your core values. Do you consider letting her go?

What about promoting a successful customer service representative who is consistently disrespectful to others? Do you keep him on board?

Even if there’s a negative financial impact on the business, if you are serious about your values, you’ll make those tough decisions, you’ll put your culture and your people first, and others will notice.

Building Culture at Every Stage 

To truly bring your values to life, create a multifaceted plan that encourages employees to live the essence of your culture and each of your values every day throughout the entire employee journey. In addition, set culture goals, measure how you’re doing against them, and continuously evolve.

Let’s look at some things you can do. There are lots!

DO THIS AND THIS
ATTRACTION and ADVOCACY: Empower employees to share your culture story.
  • Give your employees a hashtag to share about your culture in action with their social networks—ours is #SalesforceOhana.
  • Encourage employees to share their experiences of your culture on employer review sites.
RECRUITING: Integrate culture and values into the hiring process.
  • Train hiring managers on your culture story.
  • Define interview questions for each of your company values, and train hiring teams on how to use questions to determine if the candidate is aligned on your values while also bringing something unique or special to add to your culture.
ONBOARDING: Immerse new hires in your company culture and values.
  • Devote time to explaining your company culture and values during the onboarding process and provide specific examples of what the values look like in everyday work life through things like exec fireside chats and tenured employee storytelling.
  • Include activities in orientation that let employees live your company values from the start—one of ours is volunteering so we do that on day one. (See Values Activity in the Salesforce Ohana Culture Pack.)
EXPERIENCE: Constantly tell stories of values in action
  • Share employee stories and tips on how to bring the values to life on a company culture blog or in your employee community.
  • Use Town Hall meetings and other communication forums such as digital screens and emails to socialize the company’s values.
EXPERIENCE: Build programs to reinforce your company values.
  • Create employee programs to ensure that your company’s values come to life every day.
  • These can include things like a forum for airing ideas or grievances to create more transparency, inclusive hiring practices and employee resource groups to increase equality, volunteer time off to encourage giving back, wellness reimbursements and increased parental leave to give people permission to take care of themselves and their families.
GOAL SETTING: Include company values in individual goal setting and measure progress.
  • Have all employees include a goal and metric around living your values in their individual goals.
  • Use performance evaluations and feedback, employee surveys, and other mechanisms to measure and report on progress.
PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS: Include company values in performance and promotion criteria.
  • Don’t only look at results when you are evaluating performance or giving feedback about someone.
  • Consider how things get done, what interactions the individual has with others, and how they live the company’s values.
RECOGNITION: Integrate company values into recognition programs.
  • Publicly recognize individuals for living the values.
  • Integrate company values into your formal rewards programs.
MEASURE and EVOLVE: Conduct regular employee surveys and ask about company values.
  • Ask questions about how well employees think the company is doing living the values on your regular employee surveys.
  • Then, act on the feedback!
Note

Note

Want to get everyone involved in bringing your company values to life? Download the Values Activity from the Salesforce Ohana Culture pack.

A company can do great things to help employees understand its values, but in the end it comes down to having the programs in place that empower employees to live them. And it is up to you and every employee in your company to lead by example.

Leading by Example

So, what can you do personally to role model your company’s values?

Start by taking personal responsibility—it’s up to you to bring the values to life, not HR, executives, or the marketing department. Sure, communications campaigns and formal programs around your values all have a purpose, but the real magic happens when you yourself put them into action.

And if you’re a leader or a manager, it’s even more important that you lead by example. Every action you take, your employees are watching you. Ask yourself daily, “Does my behavior reflect our company values?”

Note

Note

Ready to take on a couple of activities to help you lead by example? Download the Living the Values—Emulating Your Role Model and Living the Values—Your Strengths & Opportunities worksheets from the Salesforce Ohana Culture pack.

Living the values starts with self-reflection. List your company’s values. As you look at each value, think about someone in the company you consider a role model of this value.

Perhaps you value integrity, and you’re thinking of someone whom you trust to always tell it like it is. Perhaps you value innovation, and the person you have in mind always shares her wildest ideas.

Got someone in mind for each value? Good! Now, for each value and MVP (most valuable person) that role models it, ask yourself does this person:

  • Make decisions based on what’s most important, not what’s convenient?
  • Recognize individuals when they demonstrate your company values?
  • Embody those values when talking with other employees? With customers?
  • Uphold those values even when it’s really hard to do?
  • Give feedback to others when they aren’t upholding the values?

After thinking about your leads-by-example MVPs, and with your company values in mind, consider:

  • What is one value you’d like to demonstrate more consistently and reinforce with your team?
  • What can you do to role model this value more consistently?
  • How can you emulate some of the behaviors of your role model for that value?

Consider the impact that taking on this mindset, living these values, leading by example, and emulating the MVPs can have on your own performance, your management practices, and on your team’s and company’s success!

Making It Stick

So you’ve worked hard to define your company’s values, communicate them, and incorporate them into your employee journey with programs and tools. And you’ve taken personal responsibility for leading by example. Great! Now, how do you make sure your employees truly live your company’s values?

Here are our top 5 tips for making your company values stick.

  1. Make them clear and simple so everyone gets them.
  2. Be willing to hire (and fire) based on your company values.
  3. Enforce the company’s values across the board.
  4. Uphold and walk the walk of the values in good times and bad.
  5. Build measurable programs to ensure the values are brought to life.

Let’s Sum It Up

We’ve explained the business value company culture can have to your organization—it creates an environment that attracts and retains great people, creates better customer experiences, and ultimately drives your financial success.

A company’s culture is driven by core values that guide the day-to-day behaviors of all employees. At Salesforce, we know what we stand for, and our customers, employees, partners, and communities do, too. You’ve seen how we’re intentional about our culture and demonstrate our values in everything we do.

Now it’s up to you! Take the time to understand your organization’s culture and to see what actions you can take to live your values. Be a role model, lead by example.

Do you know what you and your company stand for? Get to know it, and then go out and live it!

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