The values of an organisation are the underlying beliefs – sometimes described as the way that people behave in the absence of policy. Many organisations have pretty standard corporate values like “integrity” or “teamwork” – but often, those are just words on a wall. The real values are the things that an organisation believes in – and these result in the organisation’s behaviour. So, if the value on the wall is integrity, does the organisation take a hard stance against fraud and does it pay all its taxes? If the value is “respect”, does the CEO treat the lady who makes tea with the same respect as he does his executives?
The culture is made up of these values and their resultant behaviours. In order to create a good culture, you need to be firm about the behaviour you expect from your people and especially your leaders. Decide what you want your values to be – what you, as an executive team, believe in. And then, make sure that these values are communicated in induction, in company meetings, in ways that performance is measured and celebrated.
You want to be specific about the design of your physical surroundings, the way that meetings are carried out, what the company believes about flexible hours, dress-code and internet access. Really, wants you understand your values, the details will generally fill themselves in – but when they don’t, your leadership team should know and should call it out.
A culture can develop organically, and often, in a smaller organisation, that works – as it will develop in line with the personalities of the leadership team. However, as your team gets bigger and evolves to employ people with different personalities and skills – it becomes more important to be deliberate about the values and behaviours you expect from your team.