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Outlining Behavioral Standards to Make Values Sticky

May 8, 2018

 

Recently, I consulted with the leaders of the Ochsner Research Team who got together and mocked up 6 team commitments over much conversation and thought. A manager reached out to me for guidance on how to introduce these commitments to the rest of the Research team, gain their feedback and buy-in, and make the values sticky. I came up with a two-hour activity where I guided 130 team members and leaders through defining their 6 new commitments and outlining behaviors for each.

 

At WorkHuman, Brene Brown was emphatic about the importance of companies defining the behaviors that align with their core values. This notion goes for teams too. The first step is to have your company or team values defined, so if you haven’t done that yet, then this is a good place to start.

 

Taking the commitments a step further and operationalizing those values into behavioral standards puts meat on the bones of your newfound (or old) commitments. When you don’t outline statements that demonstrate the behavioral actions that align with your values, then people interpret them however they like because we’re all humans and have different experiences, understandings, and context that we draw from when internalizing novel ideas.

 

Defining actions that support your commitments allows everyone to be on the same page and guides people to act out the behaviors that the company supports and helps make them sticky. When something is sticky, it’s not just a formality, we really live and work according to the actions agreed upon by team members. We see our colleagues, leaders, and team mates work, communicate, and behave the way we all know is right and respected due to our behavioral standards. Without taking this extra step in defining behaviors for your values, it’s like giving people a destination with no map (or GPS). You know where you’re going but have no idea how to get there, so people get lost along the way.

 

Here’s a brief run-through of the activity I facilitated for the Research Team to try in your work place:

 

  1. Introduce each commitment on a slide with an image the encompasses the general meaning of the commitment.

  2. Talk briefly about what each means in generic terms and invite participants to explain their interpretation based on team context.

  3. Break up participants into 6 groups based on randomly assigned colored dots on the bottom of their chair (about 20 people/group).

  4. Gather at the table with the colored table tent that matches their dot.

  5. Assign each group a commitment.

  6. Use the time allotted to define the meaning of their assigned team commitment in Research team context and then outline 3-5 behaviors that align with their definition.

  7. Report out to larger group and invite feedback from participants.

 

At the end of our session, we ran out of time but the plan was to use a live polling application to capture which commitment would make the most positive impact on the team and encourage the team to all agree to focus on working on that particular commitment at this time and living out the behaviors that had been outlined.

 

Do you have company and/or team values? If so, have you defined the behaviors that operationalize what ‘living according to the values’ looks like? How can you start a conversation introducing this to your leaders or team?

 

If you are interested in the final outcome of the Research Team’s 6 Commitments and Behaviors click here.

 

 

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