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What are your organization’s values?

Chances are they include things like: trust, collaboration, innovation, honesty, putting the customer first, and diversity.

Do you think your company is the only one with those values? Of course not!

If the words themselves aren’t unique, then what makes your company different?

Values are just words or phrases, they aren’t special. What matters is how those values come to life.

It’s easy to write “diversity and inclusion” on your website or on banners hanging from the company rafters. But it’s quite another thing to actually make sure that you’re hiring diverse candidates and that all of your employees genuinely feel like they belong and can make a difference at your company.

If you were to write down the values of your company on a sheet of paper and then walk around your office, would you see those values in action?

Here are five ways to make your company’s values come to life:

1. Do a value audit

If you were to write down the values of your company on a sheet of paper and then walk around your office, would you see those values in action? Do you see trust? Do you see innovation? Do you see integrity?

If you can easily see the values, your organization is likely doing a good job of bringing them to life. However, if you can’t see the values or if you see the opposite values in action, it’s probably time for an overhaul.

2. Start at the top

Values should be personified by top leaders at the company. If the CEO and other top executives make things like innovation and empathy part of their mindsets and actions, those values will flow to the rest of the employees and become a crucial part of the company. However, the opposite is also true. You can’t change behavior or get people to act a certain a way by telling them what to do, you must show them how to be.

I put together a video which talks about this in more detail. Please check it out below and if you want more content like this you can subscribe to my Youtube channel.  

3. Get employee feedback

Ask employees how they think the organization is doing. Can they name the values without looking at them? Better yet, can they give examples of how they have lived those values or have seen others personify them? Employees who are in the trenches often have the greatest insights and most valuable recommendations for how to improve the culture…listen to them.

4. Focus on purpose & meaning

Employees want a sense of purpose & meaning at work (and in life). I wrote about this extensively in an article titled, “The Difference Between Purpose & Meaning and How to Create Both.”

We are all more likely to be engaged in our jobs and live the values of an organization if we are able to see how the work we are doing is making an impact. Oftentimes this can be achieved through story-telling and more transparency.


5. Reward values

Back up the values with rewards. If your company values things like diversity and inclusion and collaboration, then reward employees that showcase those characteristics. Rewards don’t need to be monetary, they can also include something as simple as recognition. For example, sending an email to a team saying, “I just want to highlight the amazing work that Lisa did this week by stepping up and helping he peers…”

Employees naturally work towards whatever is rewarded and encouraged so highlight what you want to see more of!

Many companies have similar values, but that doesn’t mean every company is the same. Focus on bringing the values to life and turning them into the walk and talk of your company instead of just words on an inspirational poster.

Truly applying the values will help separate your organization from the rest.


1. Subscribe to The Future of Work Podcast where I interview business leaders around the world each week.

2. Grab a copy of The Future Leader which has been endorsed by the CEOs of MasterCard, Best Buy, Oracle, Audi, Unilever, Domino’s Pizza, Ritz Carlton, Kaiser, and Marshall Goldsmith. It explores the most essential skills and mindsets for future leaders.

3. If you are or want to be an entrepreneur then my wife and I just launched a brand new podcast on how to Be Your Own Boss, called the BYOB Podcast where we share what we did and how we did it. You can subscribe to that here.