How to instil a value into corporate culture

Corporate values


Recently I was asked what is the process of instilling a value into the corporate culture? Honestly, I was floored. It’s not a question that can really be answered there and then and a lot depends on what the company already has in place.

It did however get me thinking.

Where would I start? I tried a generic approach in my head, but kept hitting roadblocks. Then I realised I was trying to find a one size fits all values which was not going to get me anywhere. Some values are more tangible than others, which automatically changed the starting point.  For example, if you had to compare the value of honesty and transparency vs the value of passion. There is much more I can do to show and test for honesty and transparency as opposed to passion which is a highly subjective concept. It is here that I discovered the first step.

Define what behaviour you are expecting as an outcome of that value. Make it as tangible and as objective as possible.

An example with the value of Transparency & Honesty

For transparency and honesty you could say:

  • We want to be transparent and honest with our clients
  • We want to be transparent and honest with our employees
  • We want to be transparent and honest with our suppliers.

Excellent, now what does that translate to? Let’s take the first premise. We want to be transparent and honest with our clients.

  • Do we hide the real cause of issues they encounter?
  • Do we provide clients with a window to our internal workings? How we operate so that they might better understand why a sale takes long, or why they are charged for support etc…?
  • Do we give clients visibility of where we are going as a company? What does the future look like? What we’re working on?
  • Are we clear with our clients what data we collect? How we use it? Why? And what is the benefit for them?
  • Is the way we bill clients clear? Or are there hidden/surprise charges?
  • What control do we provide our clients with? Can we do more?

I can hear some of you thinking, of course, you chose the easy one to give an example about, what about passion, which is so much more subjective.  So let’s have a shot at it.

An example with the value of Passion

In this case we need to start by defining what the company means by passion. We would need to have an objective statement that defines the value of passion. Not what you or I understand as individuals, but the company.

As a company what does it mean to be passionate?

  • Do we want to see employees coming it to work and cannot contain their excitement?
  • Do we want to see people that once they encounter a problem they keep at it until they have a solution? Perhaps we’re looking for an attitude of problem solving.
  • Do we perhaps want to see a buzz of activity where people are collaborating, communicating constantly in order to get a project done?
  • Do we want to see people excited about the company’s end goal and ready to help in whatever way is required?

Only once the value has been broken down into more tangible outcomes can we start thinking about the process the business must go through in order to instill said value.

Let’s assume that we have and by passionate, as a company we mean that, people (be it employee’s, partners or clients) are excited about where the company is planning to go and wish to be a part of it.

That is already much more understandable and can already be broken into 3 different strategies.

  1. One for employees
  2. another for partners and
  3. another for clients.

Formulating your strategy.

Once you have broken down your value into more tangible and objective outcomes, it is time to think about the overall strategy and tactics. Depending on your desired outcomes, you may need more than one.

Elements of your strategy.

To be excited about something, first you need to know about it. So how are you going to communicate the company’s end goal, depending on your audience? What are you willing to share? Therefore your strategy will need to have a communication plan that includes what the company’s end goal is.  

People don’t get excited about things that don’t benefit them or they don’t see value in, so depending on your audience each strategy is also going to have a Benefits/Advantages section.

People also have an innate need to be part of something bigger than themselves, so describing the value the company is bringing to society or the industry is also a good idea.

Like any project or change there are obstacles and hiccups. People are more likely to stand behind you and your value if they see that you are prepared and have considered everything. So yes, the  Obstacles/Disadvantages section is a valuable one.

What does the business need to do to achieve it’s end goal? What needs to change? What are the dependencies?

What actions are you expecting, from your different audiences? How are you expecting them to contribute and how can they be part of it? Basic marketing, your close needs to contain an action.

How are you planning to measure it and what results are you as a business ready to share with your different audiences? It is important that updates and progress is shown. You don’t want your communication and strategy gathering dust and being forgotten.

What tactics are you willing to employ to incentivize your audiences? Are these in line with the end goal, your other values and your company’s budget?

Time to roadmap and plan

Once your strategy has been drafted, it is time to get into the nitty gritties and really outline all the individual changes, projects and perhaps groundwork that needs to be done in order to support your strategy.

When it comes to values there is an additional consideration as opposed to when it comes to other kinds of strategy project mapping. All the actions you put into your plan, need to be actions that are aligned with the values themselves.

You cannot have an action that contradicts your value. There is an adage that fits perfectly in this situation – you need to walk the talk or this process is doomed to fail from the start.

For example, if we instilling the value of passion and there is an action that needs to be completed by say a support executive, but we’re currently one man down. Rather than waiting to recruit a resource, that action needs to be absorbed by the manager or Head of Department. Part of instilling the values is to lead by example and if we’re saying that passion for the company being excited about where the company is planning to go and wish to be a part of it and contribute in any way they can, then if you have the skill set, you need to get your hands dirty and show that you also are ready help in any way possible.


Whilst the process to instil a value into the corporate culture is a less tangible one for those of us that like tangible, reportable facts and data, it is also one of the most flexible, creative and rewarding.

I hope the above gives those of you tasked with such a mission a starting point or at the very least something to chew on.

Till next time….