One Way to Carve Your Values- and Culture-in Stone

August 14, 2016 by ahmed

Originally posted on Blogrige by Dawn Marie Bailey

How are you expected to behave at work? And do you think a coworker would answer this question in the same way?

In the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria, values are defined as the guiding principles and behaviors that embody how your organization and its people are expected to operate. They influence and reinforce your organization’s desired culture. Further, they support and guide the decisions made by every workforce member, helping your organization accomplish its mission and attain its vision appropriately.

So can you name your company’s organizational values?

You may have to go to your company’s website to find them or dig out an operating manual, but what if the organizational values were literally carved into stone at your feet. Would you then have any question about the behaviors expected of you at work?

In summer 2015, two-time Baldrige Award recipient MidwayUSA completed Operation Concrete Values, a project where more than 300 employees permanently carved their values into the sidewalks of the 21-acre MidwayUSA campus in Columbia, Mo. The carved values are now repeated across the entire 4-building campus, covering 17 entrances for a total of 20 sets of company values.

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MidwayUSA’s stated values are Honesty, Integrity, Humility, Respect for Others, Teamwork, Positive Attitude, Accountability, Stewardship, and Loyalty. Now carved in stone throughout the campus, they serve as the non-negotiable family principles that help guide MidwayUSA’s employees in their decision making and interactions with one another. But an important point here, according to the organization, is that these are the personal values of the people who work at MidwayUSA, which have been adopted by the organization.

MidwayUSA’s CEO and founder, Larry Potterfield, explained the genesis of the idea: “It all began in the fall of 2006, as we started aligning the operations at MidwayUSA with the [Baldrige] leadership and management principles [in preparation for a Baldrige Award application],” wrote Potterfield in a short story about Operation Concrete Values. “One of the Baldrige questions was, ‘What are your stated vision, purpose, mission, and values?’

We had a mission statement . . . but we struggled long and hard over the concept of company values. You see, values aren’t strategies, they aren’t goals; they’re about ethics—doing the right thing. . . . They come from employees. . . . Great companies simply adopt the most relevant of those values, then hire employees who share them.”

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Continued Potterfield, “Values must be deployed. . . . Every employee must know and share the same values, to create a culture of trust. Our mission statement was posted in multiple locations throughout each building, and our interviewing and reviewing processes were updated. . . . But then came a revolutionary idea; why don’t we engrave our values into our sidewalks, as a further reminder to each employee, our quests, and prospective employees.

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In celebration of the engraving project, what the organization believes to be the first of its kind in the nation, Potterfield said, “Our company values are much more than checking a box and feeling good about it. Our values are something each and every one of our employees personally identify with, and they are embodied both at home and at work. We think something this important should be more than simply written down, it should be carved in stone.”

A strong adherence to core values that shape culture is of course a hallmark of Baldrige Award recipients.

For example, in a recent blog about Baldrige Award Recipient Elevations Credit Union, Kim Felton wrote, “At Elevations, we build our team to serve our membership by believing in and demonstrating our five core values: Integrity, Respect, Passion, Creativity, and Excellence. We are so pleased when members share with us that they see our core values reflected in everything we do.”

At Baldrige Award Recipient Charter School of San Diego (CSSD), everything school employees do is based on the organizational value “kids come first” and the core competency “transforming lives.” For example, CSSD resource centers (where teachers work one-on-one with students) sponsor families for meals and school supplies during winter holidays, support work experiences for students, and provide career and health support for students and their families. Teachers also make a regular practice of visiting students’ homes, traveling in pairs.

At Baldrige Award Recipient Mid-America Transplant (MTS), the organizational values of Compassion, Innovation, Integrity, Quality, and Teamwork serve as a guiding force for how the workforce lives the culture on a daily basis. MTS defines what each value means to each employee: “Compassion: We feel and show concern for others. Innovation: We make meaningful changes to improve. Integrity: We act according to what is right and wrong. Quality: We do our best, always. Teamwork: We work in harmony with others.”

At Baldrige Award Recipient Charleston Area Medical Center Health System (CAMCHS), employees receive training on how the values of Quality, Service with Compassion, Respect, Integrity, Stewardship, and Safety should drive behaviors, and the behaviors drive achievement of the core competency to improve the health and economics of CAMCHS’ community.

So do you know what are your organizational values and whether they drive your culture? Is your organization ready to set them in stone?

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