Aligning Competencies with Organizational Values: Building a Strong Culture.

By Kim Dunn

It is usually easy to spot a dysfunctional culture when you see one.  The bigger question is how can you build or develop your culture to be more effective?

Company culture is about the shared norms, values, attitudes, and practices that form the collective identity of your company. At its best, your culture is the secret sauce that binds your team together and sets the stage for the narratives your employees play out, creating your overall organizational story.

Improving or changing a company culture is not as simple as changing a policy or improving your benefits structure. It takes time to develop and if it is a “less than positive” culture it will need some significant modification in how people behave to evolve into something that a company can use to drive results as well as attract and retain talent.

The first step in furthering your culture evolution is to identify your company’s core values. Core values are principles or qualities that motivate your team and drive their behavior. Core values describe how people act within the organization while they are performing their work. For example, professionalism, teamwork, and accountability may describe some of your company’s values. It is always interesting to ask an employee who has been with your organization for a significant amount of time what they believe the core values to be. This is a testament to how strong your culture is and how much work you may need to do to continue to develop it.

Another way to positively impact your culture is to utilize Behavioral Competencies in your performance management process. Behavioral competencies are identifiable, observable behaviors that result in on-the-job success. They are made up ofabilities, skills, knowledge, motivation, and traits. When you utilize Organization Competencies that have their roots in your values you can create a system which encourages specific behaviors that will ensure the success of your employees and the organization.

For example, if your organization is built on your “Customer Experience” you would want to be sure that you created an Organizational Competency of Customer Focus. You would describe what customer focus means to the organization and give examples of what Role Model, Accomplished and Developing customer focus looks like. Through education and repeated communication, the organization would reward those employees who are at the Role Model and Accomplished level in the Customer Focus competency through your performance management process. In the same way, for those employees just learning the Core Competencies they will be given examples through “Behavioral Anchors” which describe what each level of customer focus looks like. Over time, through coaching and feedback employees will understand how important this behavioral competency is and continue to work on their own development within that specific competency.

When you connect your Values to Behavioral Competencies using performance management, you will develop your culture through your employees’ behaviors, attitudes, and practices.

If you would like to learn more about developing your performance management process EANE has created a workshop that will support you through the process of Designing and Implementing a Performance Review Process which includes a section on developing Behavioral Competences and building them into your performance management system.