I am continually amazed at how many brands espouse to certain values and a way of being only to be disappointed when they don’t live up to what they say they are. When we live by our values, we reaffirm what we stand for to our employees and customers. When we don’t live by our values, we lose good will and erode the very relationships we are trying to build. Hence, our employees, customers and even the communities we serve lose confidence and trust in our brand!
Values are not behaviors in and of themselves, but rather a reflection of something we say we are and what has true meaning for us. However, the way to align your brand with your values is to match the behaviors that reinforce what you stand for. This is called ‘Cognitive Resonance’. If your behaviors don’t match your values, we call this ‘Cognitive Dissonance’. So many businesses today, haven’t taken the time to identify, define and live their values. As a result, they are missing a huge opportunity to ensure consistency and trust in how they deliver on their brand for their employees and customers.
Here’s a great exercise to apply to your brand today. Do it right now!
- Think about your core values as a business. If you haven’t identified your values, then take some time with a select group of your employees to identify the 3 or 4 key values that comprise your belief system as brand. These are guiding principles that have real meaning to what your brand stands for.
- Make sure you define each value in a very succinct statement so that everyone in the business understands clearly the meaning and how they translate in the way you will do business and show up for your employees and customers.
- Gather your staff together (3-5 employees or teams of employees) and do the following:
- List your values on a flip chart or white board. Have each staff member rate the value on a scale of 1-5 (1=Never, 2=Occasionally, 3=Frequently, 4=Almost Always, 5=Always) and then take the average for each value.
- Select the one value that has the biggest gap. In case of a tie, just make a selection.
- Ask your team to think about the behavioral implications to your brand in not living the value.
- Ask them to brainstorm ways as a brand you can behaviorally show up more consistent to one another and your customers.
- Commit and agree to specific actions and a time-line.
- Meet weekly to address each consecutive value, committing and agreeing to specific actions and time-lines for each.
- Monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.
Voila! You’re well on your way to creating greater alignment between your behaviors and your core values. Take the time to celebrate your successes with your team. Continue to collaborate on ensuring Cognitive Resonance with what your brand stands for. This will only enhance your ability to consistently cultivate confidence and trust with your customers and employees.