The Five Senses Of Values

‘How do we get our values to come to life?’ It’s a question we get asked a lot. Many organisations have values but in few do they have real impact. It’s a lost opportunity because when they work well, values bring huge benefits. They reinforce an organisation’s personality, help ensure consistency, and enable a common, positive, experience for customers.  Ineffective values not only make all this harder to achieve, but they often also have a toxic effect, encouraging cynicism and damaging the credibility of the organisation.  

Emotions are really important in getting values right – people must feel passionate about them so the values must be in tune with what they hold dear. This means having a strong dialogue and clear understanding  between the organisation and its people and our clients use the Inpulse technology and approach to achieve this.  

Having instant, transparent and open communication about people’s emotions helps develop the ‘right’ values in the first place and make sure they resonate with those who need to live them. Once the values are agreed, open, immediate and honest feedback enables an organisation to keep in touch with the impact they are having, and how credible they are.  To do this, we focus in five key areas – the five sense of values: 

Sight – people must see the values regularly, not just on emails, walls, and mugs, but also in the way colleagues behave.  This keeps them in people’s minds, shows commitment and demonstrates how they can help. Finding and sharing real examples of the values having an impact will really give them weight.  Client organisations use Inpulse as a powerful, easy and enjoyable way to share such success stories.  

Sound – people also need to hear leaders and colleagues talking about the values, why they are important and what they mean. Leaders must refer to them often and make sure that they link back decisions and policies to the values so people make the connection.   

Touch – values work when people can see their fingerprints on them – they and or their colleagues have had some part in the values’ development. This doesn’t mean that they need to be decided by committee or agreed by a vote. It is important, however, that a cross section of people are involved in fine tuning the values and have regular chance to challenge and ask questions about them. 

Smell – people will sniff out insincerity quickly. A whiff of values just being developed as a good thing to do and nothing more will turn rapidly into the smell of decay.  To be authentic, an organisation’s values need to be embedded in every aspect of the employee’s experience, from the employer branding which first attracts them, through recruitment, personal development and performance management to the way they leave.  This can mean making painful decisions.  At one organisation, people said that they started to take the values seriously only when an otherwise successful sales director was removed after persistently flouting them.  

Taste – to have an impact, corporate values need the right ‘flavour’ which means they need to resonate with what people’s personal values.  Being asked to abide by values which are counter to one’s own can leave a bad taste. Inpulse provides clear and quick  insight into these emotional drivers while  local managers can help greatly here by helping their teams link the values with what is important to them.

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