Here’s the takeaway: Simple, clear Core Values stick when A: they’ve been heard seven times and B: The leadership team genuinely lives them.
This is something we preach across the board from a management perspective: People have to hear something seven times to hear it once.
If you’re the type of person that goes ballistic when someone asks you a question and you’ve already told them an answer three times, it’s not gonna work. I was this person, and would come close to having an aneurysm if I was asked the same thing for a fourth time. If someone comes up and asks you a question that you’ve already answered three times, you need to think, “Okay, only four more times to go, and then it’ll stick.” By making this one small shift in my thinking and understanding in how people process and learn, I have become a much more effective leader and teacher.
With core values, it’s really, really important that everyone in the leadership team is 100% on the same page. Everybody has to love the values, first and foremost. They also have to live them. Everybody’s gotta love them and believe in them. Based on that, when it’s time to roll them out to the entire company, you have to realize that if your employees smell Flavor-of-the-Month, they’re going to think, “Oh great, here’s our new core values. We’ve tried this five times already.” They’re going to roll their eyes, cross their arms, and outlast you. This is why they have to come from within the organization. If you state that “team engagement” is a Core Value, and yet the leadership team is at odds with each other and only out for their department, this is a huge contradiction and the remainder of your team will not buy in.
So, when you decide to reaffirm and roll out the core values, the most important thing is knowing that you’re gonna have to do it seven times. You also have to know that the leadership team needs to live the values.
I’ve seen people put core values on t-shirts and up on boards and things like that, but if you’re not living those values, it doesn’t matter. You can use boards and pictures, but that’s only really 5% of what you’re trying to do. The most important thing is that you live it.
I often suggest that if the management team can create an environment of “catching people being great,” it will help really drive home the core values. What I mean by this is that if you can celebrate and let others know when they see someone living the core values, it will help to define and reaffirm them in a positive way.
So, seven times to hear it once. When you hire someone, you tell them about your core values. When your team does quarterly meetings, you reaffirm why those values are important. If you catch your employees living those core values and celebrate those victories, that’s a wonderful time.
When you can reaffirm these values at least seven times and live them everyday? Then, they’ll stick.
Next week, check back in to learn more about crafting an efficient and effective company culture by delegating and elevating. If you need help making your own core values mean something in your organization, feel free to reach out anytime. I’m always happy to help, no obligations.