Do Your Leaders Model Desired Behaviors?

Your employees deserve a purposeful, positive, productive work culture. The challenge is that too few of our workplaces meet that high standard.

Defining your respectful work culture in observable, tangible, behavioral terms — with behaviors like “I resolve problems and differences by directly communicating with the people involved” or “I validate others’ ideas, efforts and accomplishments” — creates the foundation of a healthy work culture.

Training leaders and staff in your organization’s specific values and behaviors is a huge help. However, training alone will not change behaviors. You must measure progress toward desired behaviors — such as respect — regularly.

Measuring values-based behaviors requires you to gather objective feedback through regular assessments (at least twice annually) in which employees rate how well leaders throughout your company model your values and behaviors. By measuring values in a structured and disciplined way, you can refine every leader’s efforts and, ultimately, improve the health of your company’s culture.

The challenge is that few leaders are been asked to measure values across their organization, and most don’t know how. Doing a values survey poorly is worse than not doing a values survey at all. Bad questions result in bad data that is not helpful or actionable.

You need a proven, reliable values assessment system to gather insightful feedback and to act on the objective data you collect. An effective values assessment system enables you to do four things:

    • Create a customized values survey based on your desired culture.
    • Gather values feedback regarding all formal leaders.
    • Debrief survey results with each leader.
    • Coach individual leaders to demonstrate your valued behaviors in every interaction.

Values and Behaviors Survey

The structure of your survey is vital. Survey items are best derived from your organization’s defined values and behaviors. (If you haven’t defined your values and behaviors yet, now is the time to start.)

Each survey question should gather feedback on one leader and one valued behavior. This structure invites direct reports to rate their leader on each valued behavior. Your survey can also invite ratings of leaders and behaviors from indirect reports in a separate profile. Ratings should be confidential, and scores should not be attributed to any individual respondent.

Here’s an example of a survey item: “Roberta Garcia does what she says she will do.” This item asks respondents to rate Roberta on one of the company’s valued behaviors (“I do what I say I will do”), which demonstrates its value of integrity. Note that the item is stated positively, describing exactly how the company wants its leaders to behave in the workplace.

Employees should score each item on a six-point scale. Desirable responses are a 5 or 6 (“agree” and “strongly agree”) to the positive items. A score of 1 to 4, on the other hand, means that the leader does not model that behavior. This proven approach ensures that the resulting profile presents feedback that is simple and actionable.

Values and Behaviors Scorecard Examples

Here is an example of a scorecard summary for a president. The company’s six values (listed across the bottom of the graph) incorporate 15 specific valued behaviors.

Value Behavior Report Card

The ratings of the president’s direct reports and indirect reports show that she’s above the 5-6 level on four of the six values and is just shy of meeting the desired level in the other two values.

By comparison, here is a summary graph from a different leader. This person is a frontline supervisor rated by his direct reports.

Value Behavior Report Card

The visual nature of the summary graph shows that this leader’s direct reports do not feel he effectively models the valued behaviors of the organization in daily interactions. Average scores in the 2 to 4 range for all six values mean this supervisor needs prompt redirection and coaching to embrace the company’s values on the job.

Again, these samples are from a survey that this organization customized to its desired culture. You must craft your values and behaviors survey specifically for your desired culture and values rather than using an off-the-shelf or “plug-and-play” survey.

Don’t leave the health of your work culture to chance. Be intentional by measuring respectful behaviors regularly.