Define core values
The first step in the behavior change process is to define your core values, those certain values that should be embraced by all employees. You can brainstorm with the top team, choose from the list we provide here, or just use this list as a guide:
Trustworthiness. Each person working for the company should behave in a way that would earn the trust of others. As a result, our customers, employees and stockholders will trust the company. Being worthy of trust means doing one’s best and getting the job done. This also involves being honest, truthful and fair, not taking advantage of others and acting with integrity.
Service orientation. This implies an attitude of adding exceptional value for our customers. It means we have a focus on empathizing with the customer’s challenges, exceeding their expectations and doing it with courtesy. The intent is important and must show caring for the customer, both internal and external.
Quality consciousness. Being quality conscious means anticipating customer expectations of the product or service they’re acquiring, turning the expectations into specifications for the product or service, and assuring that the specifications are met 100 percent every time.
Respectfulness. Being respectful means showing respect for all relationships, both internal and external, and treating everyone fairly and without prejudice.
Learning. This implies “being in a learning mode” and adopting a mindset of openness to new ideas, showing humility and not having a “know it all” attitude in any situation. It means encouraging everyone to innovate and take risks without fear of failure or punishment.
These values can guide the conduct of the organization and have a great impact on the relationship with customers. Alignment with values can be your company’s ultimate competitive advantage.
Define pinpointed behaviors
But how do you “align” with values? How can you determine if someone is acting in a way that is aligned, for example, with “trustworthiness?” You can do it by observing their actions, not only in general ways, but watching for specific behaviors that illustrate trustworthiness. Let’s refer to these specific behaviors as pinpointed behaviors. Pinpointed behaviors are, by definition, specific, observable and verifiable. An example of a pinpointed behavior that could be characterized as trustworthy is “completing a project by the date promised.”
Change your behavior
No one can claim their behavior matches up perfectly with their values, but everyone can make an honest effort to improve. Each person can examine the corporate values and identify any behavior he or she might have that isn’t congruent with them. Then, they can make the effort to change. Changing behaviors can be difficult and will require resolution, discipline and perseverance.
When you resolve to change a behavior, you’re on the way to self-improvement. To help you along the way, you’ll need feedback on how (and if) you’re improving. It would be ideal to have feedback from a trusted person observing you. This person could be a friend, colleague or family member. However, offering this kind of feedback could be difficult for many in a working environment, leaving you with the option of being conscious of your own progress and providing self-feedback on your own improvement. Your effort will result in positive change that will be noticed in the work environment.
Facilitate change in others
The best method of facilitating change in others is setting and following your own example. Show employees and colleagues what the desirable behavior looks like, and your example will inspire them to follow suit.
The four steps we’ve outlined above are designed to assist any organization to align behaviors with values. You perform Steps 1 and 2 in a meeting with your executive team. Then, Step 3 is done by each of the top people. The success of your top people in Step 3 will determine their effectiveness in Step 4 and in your effort to see cultural transformation take place towards coherence with values. It’s important not to underestimate the power of example in an organization of any size. People will observe and follow the behavior as exemplified by their leaders.