find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Talk the talk? Then walk the talk

Talk the talk? Then walk the talk

Influencing the attitudes and behaviours prevalent across a business is the primary purpose of having corporate values, yet these values often have no real impact on how people behave at work, writes Karen Gately.

Influencing the attitudes and behaviours prevalent across a business is the primary purpose of having corporate values, yet these values often have no real impact on how people behave at work, writes Karen Gately.

Many organisations spend considerable time and effort defining their core values and yet fail to achieve the desired result. More often than not the disconnect between what is espoused and what happens in practice is caused by a lack of real ownership from the top.

The success of any effort to influence culture is unquestionably and intimately related to the degree of engagement and accountability of senior leaders. Beginning with the board and CEO, unless every leader takes responsibility for driving the creation of the desired culture, success will be hit and miss at best.

‘Walking the talk’ means doing what you say you will – in other words, turning words into action. Priorities set, decisions made and actions taken by leaders at every level of an organisation’s hierarchy demonstrate what is truly valued. Unless the behaviours that people see demonstrated or encouraged are aligned with those that leaders say are important, corporate values will have little to no positive impact. As the age old saying goes 'actions speak louder than words'.

For values to have any meaningful impact on the culture of a business, they need to truly matter. It’s easy to talk about the values people need to demonstrate; however any real impact on organisational culture is driven by the extent to which there is alignment between words and actions.

 

The seven-step walk

Seven essential ways to walk the corporate values talk include:

 

1. Drive from the very top

‘Leaders of leaders’ have ultimate influence and responsibility for the culture that is created. Allowing unacceptable senior management behaviour to go unaddressed is a key driver behind many failed efforts to create a healthy workplace culture. Starting with the board and CEO, every senior leader must be held accountable for behaving – or not behaving – in line with the organisations values.

2. Support people managers

Ensure every leader of people has a well-developed understanding of your corporate values and what each one looks like in action. Support their efforts to set clear expectations, appraise behaviour and provide constructive feedback.  Expect and support them to have those tough conversations about behaviour that so many managers avoid.

3. Take action

Little to nothing is gained from articulating core values unless people are held accountable for behaving in accordance with them. Talking about values without applying them frustrates a lot of people and will cause many to disengage. Unfulfilled values, perceived as broken promises, are a constant reminder that the organisation promised to be better than it is today. Have necessary conversations, make decisions and take action to ensure people behave as expected.

4. Be consistent

Every member of a team must be expected to behave in line with the organisation’s values irrespective of who they are and the role they play. Making exceptions is one sure way to undermine engagement with your values. Even the highest revenue earner needs to be held accountable for their conduct – or confidence in your sincere commitment to your values will be eroded.

Consistency relates to how you treat one person over the next, but also how you respond to the behaviour of an individual or group over time. A lack of consistency in either your reaction or follow-through sends confusing messages about what you really expect. Don’t threaten to take remedial action unless you are in fact willing to do so.

5. Reward well

Observe and recognise people on your team who consistently demonstrate your values. Reward only those people who bring behaviours you want to reinforce and encourage in others. Look for opportunities to leverage any formalised rewards programs to emphasise expectations and showcase positive behaviours. Encourage members of your team to nominate for recognition peers who they believe live by your corporate values.

6. Hire well

Recruit people who are likely to behave appropriately. Explore how candidates have approached tasks or circumstances in the past in order to derive a sense of how they are likely to behave in the future. Reflect on the values and attitudes they are likely to bring, and how these will influence their approach to working with other people.

7. Promote well

Never appoint someone to a leadership role unless they operate in ways consistent with the culture you want to create or maintain. This applies as much to the decisions that are made about who to appoint to Board roles as it does to any other leadership position. The decisions made about who is appointed will send clear messages about what is ultimately considered successful behaviour. The approach a new leader takes before and following their appointment points to the values and behaviours that really matter.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Talk the talk? Then walk the talk
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microphone
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
protest
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...