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How To Bring Your Organizational Values To Life (with Tanya Schecter from HTI Institute)

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Timothy Reitsma

Values. You know, we hear this word all the time in our businesses or in our personal life. You know, as a founder of an organization, you may have even put some together because somebody told you to as part of the journey that you need them. So you wrote some down by yourself. You may be put in an employee handbook or they’re on a poster on the wall. But you don’t really know what they are.

You don’t know what they mean. You don’t know how to actually bring them to life every day. You know, a cool story. I was talking with a few employees of a quite a large charity organization, and they said the values are lifted, breathe every day. Even anybody in an organization can stop another worker and just ask them, hey, what value is showing up for you today? And then they went on to recite them. I thought it was so cool to hear that an organization was truly embracing values and it was really guiding the day to day decision.

I wish I could say that this was the norm in organizations, but unfortunately, it’s not. Values just seem to be a buzzword. So how do we make them stick? How do we make them show up in our everyday? In today’s podcast will dive into the why of values and how to truly make them show up in your workplace. 

Timothy Reitsma

Thanks for tuning in. I’m Tim Reitsma, the resident host of People Managing People. Welcome to the podcast where people manage you people. And we want to lead and manage better. We’re owners, founders, entrepreneurs. We’re middle managers. We’re team leaders. We’re managing people. And yes, we do human resources, but we’re not HR, at least not in the traditional sense. 

We’re on a mission to help people lead and manage their teams and organizations more effectively. So if you want to lead and manage better. If you want to become a better organizational leader and a more effective people manager, then join us. Keep listening to the podcast to find the tips, tricks, and tools you need to recruit, retain, manage, and lead your people in the organization more effectively. And while listening to the show, please subscribe and join our mailing list on peoplemanagingpeople.com to stay up to date with all that’s going on. Thanks for joining me today, Tanya. It’s a pleasure to have you on again. 

Tanya Schecter

I’m so happy to be back, Tim. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, it’s I think this is the third podcast now. I’ve done with HTI Institute or with yourself. We did one with you and then with you and your co-founder. And now you’re back on. And as I mentioned to Matthew, that you and Matthew are our resident guests of People Managing People. So, you know, thanks for all your support. 

Tanya Schecter

We enjoy it so much. It’s always fun to have these conversations. And I think I get as much out of it, if not more than your viewers do. 

Timothy Reitsma

That’s awesome. And, you know, today’s conversation is about values. And there’s I didn’t actually Google searches, but I’m sure that there are thousands of podcasts on values. But this one is gonna be a little different because we’re not just going to talk philosophically book values,

but we’re going to actually talk about how do you actually make them show up every day. But before we get into that conversation, you’ve got a new book out. So fill us in with that, you know, tell us what it is, what the book is, and what it’s about and where can we find it. 

Tanya Schecter

So thanks for mentioning it. That’s great. Our book is called The Art of Relationship Based Leadership and the front title’s called Lead from Your Heart. And that’s really the focus is how can we emerge as leaders and lead from our heart? Because what we believe is that relationships formed the basis of everything. 

Tanya Schecter

And without being in proper relationship, both starting with the relationship that we have with ourselves and then moving outwards with others, we really can’t lead to others and we can’t set intentional direction.

And we basically, without the attachment, we can’t get to the goals that we want to and get others to buy into it. It’s available on Amazon as a print book and it’s also available as an e-book through every traditional channel. So Amazon, Chapters, Indigo, all of those. 

Timothy Reitsma

That’s fantastic, and congratulations on that milestone, I know it’s been a journey to get the book out, and I’ve read a couple of chapters and it’s fantastic. And so, you know, kind of a plug for HTI Institute for anyone listening.

Cheque out that book and also cheque out HTI Institute’s Web site. I think you’ll find a lot of value there. So as we make this conversation can flow into values, I think we can’t have a heartfelt real or lead from a place of a relationship without values. Would you agree? 

Tanya Schecter

Absolutely. And that’s why the third chapter of our book, Lead From Your Heart. The Art of Relationship Based Leadership is focussing completely on values. They are such an integral part of any relationship and it helps to form the boundary around to help define who we are and who we aren’t. 

Timothy Reitsma

And so I’m going to put you on the spot. What is one of your core values? 

Tanya Schecter

So one of my core values is integrity. It’s huge. It’s probably my number one. 

Timothy Reitsma

OK. And so how does it guide you? 

Tanya Schecter

So do it basically. I know when something’s not right. If I start getting a kind of a queasy feeling or something seems out of alignment. So for me, integrity. And that’s when I know that the integrity value is being transgressed. Whether it’s by myself or through interaction, that’s somebody else’s. It doesn’t feel authentic.

And so for me, integrity is it’s kind of the catchall word for a whole bunch of other things, which includes, you know, doing my best. Transparency, honesty. Doing what I say I’m going to do. Trying to inspire others to do the best that they can do. So it’s it is a catchall for a whole bunch of other things. But when I think the word integrity, I myself know that it’s a catchall for all of that. 

Timothy Reitsma

And so would you say that values can be a bit more high level a catchall versus, you know, very specific? 

Tanya Schecter

Well, I think it’s specific, but I think one word there has to be almost like a back story. There’s the fleshing out. The word is the keyword that tells you. What does it mean? Because often we can starts grouping a whole bunch of different values together. Right.

They’re kind of they become of values glom or values. All right. Because they’re so similar. And then one will stand out as the one that’s that kind of a capsular. It’s all the stuff below it. And so it is specific and there are a story and a back story in it that goes into it. So it’s bigger than just that one word, which may be only a few words. And like one sentence or a couple of sentences definition. Right. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah. And so, you know, we kind of want to move to. So for personal those. But I think it also relates to company values or organizational values. And, you know, I’ve had an opportunity to do some consulting with organizations who were on this journey of redefining their core values. You know, we’d go in and, you know,

I’d ask, though, senior leaders who what are your values and what do they mean to you? And I’d usually get blank stares or, you know, avoid eye contact. So don’t ask me that question. Right. So, like, why is it so important? You know why? I guess a different question is, is why do so many organizations misunderstand the importance of values? 

Tanya Schecter

So I love that you’re asking this. I was just writing an article on this yesterday, and it really touches on that point of people think values are fluffy, right? And it’s one of those soft skills or those soft things and what do we really need them for? And what I truly believe is that values, when they’re operationalized, can become an organization’s biggest source of strength.

That becomes their strategic advantage in away. And that’s what the back story is like. When you were asking me, well, what are those other things? Is it just a bunch of things? No. The back story is the opera operationalizing of it. Right.

What does it mean to actually put it into action? Right. So being let’s say when I said integrity is my number one value and inside of that is transparency. Well, that means. Right. Being clear on what I’m saying and really being transparent about all my interactions when I’m dealing with my clients, when I’m dealing with friendships, when I’m dealing with my family and not hiding things, not sidestepping things, and really being clear on what I’m saying. Right.

And it’s the same things for companies when they can start to operationalize those values and put that back story in and understand it. It allows them to actually enact them and apply them on a day to day level. 

Timothy Reitsma

So I think you probably can anticipate. My next question then is and I’m sure our listeners are saying or are asking this as well. How do you operationalize them? So you’ve got a word like integrity or transparency. And how do you operationalize it? How do you make it practical? Or do we need to? 

Tanya Schecter

Well, I think it’s this is, in a way, a two-part answer. One is that to come up with words that reflect who we want to be, there has to be some work done beforehand. 

Tanya Schecter

And so some of those back. What I’m calling the back story would have emerged there. Right. So it would be through in interviews and talking with people and really thinking about how do we want to show up. Right. So all of those stories that people say, oh,

I love it. You know, when we do this, I feel really good as an employee or a customer. Given us really good feedback that this is what we’re good at and some stories that really show in concrete, practical terms, the value would be the word that encapsulates all of that. 

Timothy Reitsma

So it’s not necessarily working from the top down of. OK, well, what? Here’s the list of words. Which words resonate with you? It’s kind of looking at your operations and saying, OK, well, what do we what are we doing now that we’re proud of or how do we make decisions or what guides our decisions? Would you. 

Tanya Schecter

Absolutely. And it can also be. And who do we want to be more of? Where are we falling short? What are we missing? So it’s two parts of the story. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah. It’s not just, OK, we’re awesome. So this is why we’re awesome. Let’s put those words down. But it’s also aspirational. Right. Absolutely. You know, if we were 100 percent perfect all the time, then it would be easy to live in integrity. We wouldn’t have a problem with that. But, you know, I would argue and maybe another podcast, we’re not perfect all the time.

And, you know, but if we make a decision and it doesn’t feel right, we can also use our values to, you know, look, in retrospect of, OK, well, why am I feeling the way I am? Did I violate something in my own value set? 

Tanya Schecter

Absolutely. So when what we talk about a lot in our book Lead from Your Heart, is that values are really a great indicator. So once we know what our values are, they are, as you said, aspirational. They’re things that we’re always striving to move closer towards. And they can also be a big indicator to let us know when something is out when we’re so far out of alignment with our values. We don’t feel well. 

Tanya Schecter

And for organizations that can happen for individuals and it can also happen by feedback from clients, clients, customers, service providers, Ray. And bottom line, dollar results can start telling us, oh, well, we say wear this, but something’s not working because the feedback is telling us differently. Right. 

Tanya Schecter

So they do tell us where we’re out of alignment. And they provide us with a goal post of where to move forwards towards. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, I agree with that. It’s not just static or this is how we’re operating today. So but it’s something that, you know, we want to move forward. We want to hit that goalpost. We want it. We want to pursue that mission and that vision. So, okay.

So we’ve talked about values and how do we, you know, as an organization, identify values. Is. Is it just the founder in his office or at his desk just writing down a couple of words, or is there a process of identifying or re-identifying values? 

Tanya Schecter

I don’t think it’s one size fits all. So I think it can really depend on how. How it can evolve. So it could be a matter of. OK. Somebody decides this is really important. You know, a company was small. It evolved without values. Nobody ever really thought about it. They’ve done well, relatively. And as they grow, somebody says, actually, we really need to start thinking about values. We need them to bring us to the next level. And at that point, it’s great to have input from everybody. 

Tanya Schecter

So. A perfect example of this would be the company Amgen. Do you know them? 

Timothy Reitsma

No. No, I don’t. 

Tanya Schecter

So they’re a huge company in the States. There is a bio biotech company and they’ve been super successful over the years and they had started out doing really well. And at one point one they one guy realized, well, we don’t have values. 

Tanya Schecter

So he just kind of started this project off the side of his desk. And he’s like, well, just kind of think about who we are and write something up. And I guess somebody higher up. I don’t know if there’s a V.P. or the president said, actually, this is too important. You know, we can’t just throw this together. And so they started an interviewing process and gathering feedback from every single employee.

And Many, you know, got all these stories about who are we, what makes us different, what makes us excel. And then started whittling it down. And the process took two years. So it can be a long process and it can also be a much shorter process. You know, somebody it could be a company starts off really small and, you know, the founding group decides, well, these are values because they reflect who they want to be and how they want to grow as a company. And then maybe these become revisited as the company grows and shifts. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, it’s I agree. It’s not a one size fits all. I mean, if you’re a founder, listen to this. And you’ve got a small team of a few people who’ve been on this journey with you, ask them, sit down, have a conversation about what makes your organization unique. What do you stand for? What guides decisions? And very quickly, you will find you’ll find values. And they may not be the exact word, but there are not two.

Two people may be using different words, but that’s where you can correlate them together. And just as you’re explaining Tennyo of, you know, transparency fits under integrity for you. Whereas somebody else might say transparency. And that’s it. Like, it’s nuts. That’s the value. So, you know, there’s not one prescription that fits with us. However, I like that approach where you’ve got an organization made up of people and they come to work every day for some reason.

And so why not ask them? Why not ask you what keeps you coming? What keeps you coming and doing your work? And where are we excelling? Where do we maybe need some help in our business or in the growth? And you’ll uncover some trends in value words, but you also might uncover that there may be some misalignment. So what happens then if there’s misalignment? 

Tanya Schecter

I think that’s a great question. I think when there are values aren’t something that you can impose on someone. They have to be claimed by the individual. And so there are two parts to this. One is let’s say there’s a company and they’ve got values and they see that there’s a misalignment with some of their employees.

Part of it may be looking at, well, what are those employees’ personal values and how can we explore and do some work around seeing if there’s overlap between their personal values and the company’s values. So it’s kind of having conversations, digging a little deeper, doing some education, and seeing where you can find alignment.

And sometimes it’s just a matter of it’s not a good fit, which is great to know because both for the employee, the employee would want to be in a company that reflects their values. And for the company, they want employees who can buy into their values and who reflect and embody them. 

Timothy Reitsma

Mm-hmm. I’m just going to play the devil’s advocate here. So this seems like a lot of work. Seems like, you know, it’s a lot of work to dig into individuals, their values and maybe some misalignments. And so. You know, we’re too busy, we don’t have time for this.

Do you ever come across people that have that reasoning or excuse or? Yeah. And how do you overcome that hurdle? Because I’m sure people are listening, going. Now, that seems great on paper, but, you know, how do we actually get this done? 

Tanya Schecter

Totally. Well, it is work and it does take time and money to do. And, you know, I think for a lot of people, a lot of companies, they think, well, it’s fluffy. Right. What’s the actual advantage of doing all this deep work? And so here I want to come back to Amgen again.

And they are a company who, as they up-leveled and develop their values, they became even more successful. And what it allowed them to do is just start hiring people who really fit with their culture and their mission and their vision and who wanted to embody these values. And as they did it, they became even more profitable.

And it would guide decisions. So what they’ll do is, for example, when they are looking for prospective employees, they’ll take them out to lunch with the whole team. And what they’ll be looking for is not necessarily competence, just competence, because obviously, if they’ve made it to that level, they’ve got a certain amount of technical expertise and competence in the areas.

What they’re looking for is, is there a value fit? Right. Because they know that if somebody can fit in with the values they will be costing the company less through retraining, they will be more productive. They will fit in more seamlessly and they will be making the right decisions in line with the company’s overall goals. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, it actually just reminded me of an organization called Oh, Brands, Brands, and other people don’t necessarily know that company, but under that company is one 800 got junk. Yeah. And Brian Brian Scudamore.

And he has said numerous times and in his book, as well as all over social media, that when they hire people, they before they bring somebody on, they ask the question. They do a barbecue and beer test a burger and a beer test. Would you sit down and have a beer with this person or would you invite them to your barbecue for a burger? And if the answer is no, then, OK, we need to dig into this.

Why? There’s a reason and a misalignment somewhere. If the answer is yes. And they’re potentially good fit because maybe they fit the values organizations of authenticity. I don’t know this one, their values, but if it is and somebody comes across as truly authentic, then there’s alignment.

And so, yeah, it’s a lot of work. However, just simple research online of values-driven organizations and how they outperform the stock market and how they outperform competitors. It’s astronomical. It’s work that needs to get done. It can’t just be an oh, we’ll get to this in year five of our organizational growth. No, it needs to happen now. 

Tanya Schecter

It totally is, two of my favorite companies are for values are Starbucks and Patagonia. 

Tanya Schecter

And you see them living their values again and again and again, even when it’s not easy when there is an immediate cost to them doing so. 

Tanya Schecter

And over time and over the long run, they’ve been incredibly successful, regardless of the inter interwoven points where it may do not cost-efficient to live the values. And there may be some short term pain. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, both great examples, you know, in Patagonia. Yeah, I love the organization and what they stand for and how decisions are really driven. And it may curb their financial growth, however, it drives their decision and their hiring processes.

Fantastic. And so, you know, so we talked about how to show the importance of values and how to identify values around your organization, talking to different people, talking to customers, what they like about you. And internally, asking people, you know, why do they show up every day? So we’ve talked about the importance.

We’ve talked about how and. Okay, so now you’ve got them and you just write them on a wall. Do you put them in the employee handbook? How do we hold people accountable? And accountable is a strong word, but how do we hold people up to those values? 

Tanya Schecter

I think that’s a great question and it’s really a matter of not just letting it become wallpaper. Right. And so there can be things like calling people out, like shout outs when people go live into value and pointing it out to others.

It can be a matter of employee recognition on different levels. Right. It can be part of the annual reviews. How well are you living in the values? Where are you falling short? Where do you have some work to do? It can be part of the promotional process. There are so many different aspects of how can you start incorporating them so that they become alive and well. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, I worked at an organization that created a shout out program around the values, and I left that organization years ago. But I still know the values. They’re ingrained in me. And they were well written everywhere on T-shirts, on the walls. But the CEO of the organization and his week, you would email thousands of people, weekly updates and he would pick one of the values and tell a story about it.

And by the end of the week, you know, he would cover, you know, all of the values and then the next week would come and he would tell other stories about the same values and SEO, BI a month into it. Maybe we were a little sick of the values, but we understood them and we could tell stories around those values, which was hugely important.

But also it also caused at least me to think, am I aligned with these values? And the answer is yes, totally. So we had a shout out a program where we had the values listed down. And if we saw team members or somebody in the organization living that value, we would fill out a little card and it would go into a monthly draw and for a small prise.

And it drove a lot of camaraderies. And I think it was it was good, but it also helped drive decisions. You know, we would use it in our executive meetings. If we were looking to make a decision, we would say, OK, is this compromising one of the values? And if the answer is yes, well, then we’d have a conversation about it and maybe still pursue going forward.

But we had a documented conversation or in some cases, yeah, we would abandon that train of thought because we couldn’t go on knowing that it was leaving us in a bad place. So. So, yeah. How do you hold people accountable? So there are lots of stories of organizations that had values of integrity and employees did things that weren’t good,

you know, maybe sold the product to people they shouldn’t have sold the product to or you know, or. Even maybe a value of teamwork. But they were the embodied individual contributor to the point where they didn’t care about their team. So how do you have that conversation with people? 

Tanya Schecter

I think it’s a matter of being very clear. It’s kind of coming back to your point before about how values are used for decision making, right? I think that’s really important. It’s kind of. Well, what do the values say? So if people are not going to be held accountable to the values, they become meaningless. And if they’re built into the regular feedback times and annual reviews and all of that, it becomes just part of the culture.

And that’s what it needs to be for them to become living and breathing. Right. It’s not just something that pops up at review time, not just something that pops up when there’s an issue. It’s every day, how can we do it? And a manager can also have meetings with their team on a weekly basis.

Which value are we really going to look to embody this week? Right. Which one are we going to look to bring to life? So there are all kinds of things. Teams can do the same thing, and there are all different ways of bringing them to life and action on actualizing them. 

Timothy Reitsma

And so so I’ve got personal core values and you have your own personal core values and our organization has core values, do we then need core values for our teams and how granular do we get? And so, you know, this is something that a question that came up in an organization I was part of is, you know, we’ve got the ROI super high-level values of the organization, but some. Yeah. Let me let’s walk through that for a couple of minutes. 

Tanya Schecter

I think that teams who want to make values for themselves, I think it’s excellent. It’s the one thing that I would say is the same way that individuals values and organizational values, in order for there to be a good fit and for people to feel good about living into those values and actualizing them, that there has to be an overlap. It’s the same thing with a team and the larger values. And there there’s a certain level where they also have to have some kind of overlap with the individual team members’ values. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, I think just as an example, this is just I’m just making up this example, but if an organization had a value of integrity and then you had a sales organization within that company had a team value of win at all costs. Right. 

Tanya Schecter

Yeah. 

Timothy Reitsma

Which one would you follow? They compete in a way that it’s like, you know, black and white. They do not match. And so if if you are listening to this and thinking, OK, maybe I should set up some values for my team. Yeah, definitely. It’s worth it. You also need to ensure that they’re in line with the organizational values. So you haven’t got any issues. Yeah. 

Tanya Schecter

Right. So like, touch your point with that team. Something that would work would be in winning through the lens of integrity. Integrity. 

Timothy Reitsma

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Or, you know, a customer-first or something like that. You know, something that still holds the essence of the corporate value. And, you know, regardless if you’ve articulated personal core values or company values.

They’re still shining through. You know, if you don’t think you need to articulate your company values, well, guess what? Your company does have values. And whether they’ve articulated or not, they’re there. And so they still shine through. And so it might be worth taking a good, hard look at what is shining through. 

Tanya Schecter

Totally. And I think that that brings up a really good point is when we can be clear on what our values are, we can be clear on is this what we want to shine through or not? 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, I like that it’s. There are some things that you might not like that are shining through. I was consulting with an organization who had hired someone. They were on paper a rock star, came from a huge management consulting company.

But after a conversation around values, this organization and this individual, they just did not mix. What this individual thought was needed to shine through was not what the organization needed. And they had to part ways and it was unfortunate. However, I’m sure both the individual and the organization were a lot happier after it happened. So hard decisions. But you need to take a hard look. 

Tanya Schecter

So, yeah, I think that that brings up a really good point. It’s kind of coming back to that example from and again is, you know, one time and once the values were in place and this is part of the whole accountability piece and a good fit, it’s, you know, one of the senior V.P. is had hired an employee and late not long afterward, you know, the manager fired them.

And so the V.P. comes out. It’s like, well, what do you do? I personally hired this guy. And the managers, look, he’s completely violating our values. And then the senior V.P. is like, oh, OK. You’re totally right. Right. And that’s the accountability piece and the living into it, even when it’s not convenient. 

Timothy Reitsma

Yeah, I love that. And I think, you know, as we as we look to take on Iraq, wind down the podcast, I think. I think that’s a fantastic point. Tanya is is you know, if you’re leading an organization. Take a take stock of who is part of your organization. Are things being compromised? Are things are you just letting things go without saying anything? It’s now time to articulate the values and drive that accountability.

And in a fun way, it doesn’t have to be such a downer of, oh, shoot. I’m not living value at this very moment. So how do I actually, you know, put one on my screen saver to show my boss? I’m actually thinking about you. But it needs to even. Even setting up values need to come from a place of integrity and a place of authenticity.

I think that’s the important thing is it’s not just all aspirational. Like, we’re you know, we’re on one end of the spectrum, but we want to be on the other end of the spectrum. Having a couple of those are great. But it’s also, you know, how are you? How are you living today? And if you don’t like how you’re living today, then things need to change.

Could I not agree more. Perfect. So there you go, listeners. We’ve talked about the importance of values. We’ve talked about how as an organization to quickly identify a couple of values. It could take a couple of hours. It could take a couple of years. There’s no clearcut process. And we’ve talked about the why. Why is it so important and how can it guide your organization? So any final thoughts, Tanya? 

Tanya Schecter

No, I think that’s it. I think actually, as a final thought, just if our listeners have not thought about what their personal values are, it’s a great time to start thinking about them. Knowing our personal values sets the stage for us to make better decisions of who we want to be and to bring ourselves into alignment with that.

Timothy Reitsma

I love that. And I think I think we could do a podcast just on personal core values and really get into the how do we identify them? How do we identify core values? And, you know, I think one question I’ll all kind of tease our listeners with is, you know when you are thinking about your own personal core values.

Think about, you know, if money or time wasn’t an issue, what would you be doing in your life? And another question is maybe what? Well, what is your superpower? What would your superpower be? And certain listening for value words such as curiosity or fun or impact or integrity or transparency, whatever it is. But. But I’ll leave it there. So thanks for tuning in. Thank you again, Tanya. We will definitely be talking to you again soon.

And if those who are listening like what they heard, please, please give us a rating on our podcast as well as subscribe. Yeah. We’d love to also get your feedback. And if there are topics you’d like us to cover, shoot me a note and we’ll definitely get that on the podcast. 

Timothy Reitsma

So with that, everyone takes care and we’ll talk to you again soon.

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