In my last post I discussed the importance of having a clear vision relative to a culture of development and how this vision can engage today’s workforce by providing a common understanding of what the organization is attempting to achieve relative to development of its talent. Figure 1 illustrates the model we’re using throughout this series to create a culture of development. This post focuses on the Values column.

Figure 1Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 12.17.48 PM

The vision will provide clues as to the underlying core development values. Values can be defined as principles or guiding beliefs that set the tone for the expectations (or behaviors) required of all employees. For example, if our vision states that feedback is shared regularly and candidly, then it’s likely we value an environment of trust and open communication.

In today’s world, values are sometimes only viewed as nice-sounding words on a poster rather than as serious principles, which guide behavior. Unfortunately, there will be times when we will fall short of living up to our values but it’s important to not let the values fall by the wayside just because we make a few mistakes. Own up to your failings in living the values and find ways to improve. If values are nothing more than platitudes, then our leadership credibility is on the line.

The keys to having a successful set of values (by successful I mean widely communicated, understood and demonstrated) include pondering and answering the following questions:

  • What are the consequences for exemplifying or not exemplifying our values?
  • Are our values aspirational and realistic?
  • Is there a commitment and willingness in our leadership to set an example of living our values
  • How will we continually reinforce and embed our values in our daily interactions?

To create a set of values for a robust culture of development, I suggest starting with the list below. (Some of these values may not be reflective of what your organization believes currently; however I would strongly urge careful consideration of the following items if you want to create a strong culture of development):

  • We value retention and the internal development and placement of our talent
  • Everyone has development and growth opportunities, not just a select few
  • Development is an ongoing, career-long process and requires effort on everyone’s part
  • The individual owns (and drives) his/her development goals, plans and actions
  • The organization and its leadership has a supporting role in development
  • Development (especially career development) is not defined only by vertical movement
  • Continuous improvement and change are required for every job and therefore every job requires constant upgrading of capabilities and skills

One test of leadership is being able to articulate a set of values and then holding yourself and others accountable for understanding and living those values to the greatest extent possible. This is a step that cannot be taken lightly, and deserves very careful thought and consideration.

In my next post in this series we’ll discuss the expectations or behaviors required to make the vision and values a reality in implementing a culture of development.