Energize Your Team by Igniting Your Corporate Values

Do your employees know how to use your corporate values to make every day yes/no decisions? What about using your corporate values to make critical planning decisions, write copy, guide behaviour, support diversity and even hire the right people? Values are remarkably powerful performance management – performance enhancement tools.

A Real Example Of ‘Trust’ As A Corporate Value

Imagine a company shows their sales team ‘Trust’ by giving them the ability to discount customer pricing on the spot. I experienced this early in my career when I was in corporate sales. Having the trust and the autonomy to discount pricing empowered me; I felt in control. The company’s trust made me feel proud I could use my expertise and judgement in real-time. This was true for the whole corporate sales team.

Values guide how your company fulfills its purpose and
infuses your corporate personality.

Controls and measurements were of course in place. Every month the sales team and management received sales results and percent discount by sales person. Sure, this helped keep us in check; it also created a fun competition to see who could have the highest sales and the lowest discount ratio. We were not rewarded by this ratio, it was a number that helped us sell based on the long-term benefit of the client relationship – not ‘sales by discount’. The main point is, simply knowing the company ‘Trusted‘ us also empowered us – and I believe made us more successful.

When To Define Your Company Values

If you haven’t looked at your values recently, consider this an opportunity to build something special with your employees. This is as an enormous professional development, team building and performance management opportunity. Not only can defining your company values streamline decisions and behaviour… the process can be invigorating.

How To Define Your Company Values: A Sample Process

I don’t believe any two processes will ever be exactly the same. And, this is an important step for your future and the future of your company. It’s often best to have an experienced and impartial facilitator from outside your company helping you stay on track and ensure all voices are heard.

Here are some other things to know and/or do.

  1. Know your desired outcome / your purpose. How will you use your values moving forward?
  2. Introduce the project to all your employees. It’s important everyone understands why you are doing this. This supports the process and buy-in when you roll out your core values.
  3. Have the right people available:
    • If you are a large organization, I recommend all employees should be surveyed for input. Then, perhaps assemble a large strategic group to fine-tune the suggestions. Then, have only a senior team or a special advisory team evaluate and select the final ‘serious’ Values Definition Session(s).
    • If you are a small organization, try to include everyone in most of the process… leaving only the final edits – the last 20% of fine tuning should be done by your senior team or a special advisory team made up of people from all levels and all areas of the organization.
  4. What are your ground rules? Employees must feel safe and feel everyone will be listened to.
  5. Know when you want to have it done by.
  6. Have time to interview external people / customers.
  7. Have time set aside for the Values Definition Session. You will possibly need:
    • Time for a big session, likely a half-day is a good start. This would take place after you did an internal survey and spoke with external people / customers. Look for common themes – group your findings.
    • Time to fine-tune… but don’t let this drag out too long. Keep the process moving forward.
  8. Plan to have a launch day. Announce them to your team, customers, website / social media.

Sample Questions For Your High-Level Values Definition Session: Level I

This is not meant to find FINAL results… just get you 80% of the way. Let’s assume you have a gathering of your 75 employees. Bring everyone together in a large room. Set aside at least half-day for this process. In many cases, an outside facilitator will work best. Ask your employees:

  • What’s important to us?
  • What are we most proud of about:
    • Our company?
    • Our culture?
    • Our employees?
    • Our customers?
    • Our suppliers?
    • Our product / service?
    • Other?
  • What do we want to be known for?
    • What are our Core Competencies?
  • What do our customer need / want / value?
    • What are their fears?
    • What might be important to a customer relationship?
  • What do these proposed values mean?
    • How will they guide behavior?
    • How will they be used to make decisions, develop your corporate culture?

Sample Questions For Your High-Level Values Definition Session: Level II: The Last 20%: Refining Findings From Level I

  • Are these values we are willing to hire on?
  • Are these values we are willing to fire on?
  • Are these values we can apply to:
    • Customer relations?
    • Internal development?
    • Product / service development?
    • Other?
  • What do these final values mean?
    • How will they guide behavior?
    • Why are they important?
    • Can we measure them?
    • What will they cost us? For Example: Customer Service costs an organization – but it also drives Customer Satisfaction, Customer Loyalty and Employee Loyalty (all four can be measured).
    • How will values be used develop your corporate culture?


Corporate values require thoughtful identification of the what the organization is and what it wants to be.

Organizational culture is as powerful and as fragile as a living personality – made up of the energy, actions, decisions and behaviours of all employees – and often customers and suppliers.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Implementing A Performance Management System (PMS)

A Performance Management System is about building trust, capacity and a respectful partnership between a manager and each of their employees. Some people see performance management as trendy words for the annual performance review. It’s Not… it’s much more! This is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

In a time when employees don’t feel their employers are loyal, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employers to partner with their employees and help them reach their work goals, career goals and personal goals by investing in opportunities, mentoring, encouragement and training.

In a time when employers don’t feel employee loyalty, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employees to understand and respect the organizational values and to do their best to support the organizations strategic plan and improve team / organizational effectiveness.performance-management-plan-for-success

Note: One-Year plans are common for full-time employees. Part-time or seasonal employees still participate in Performance Management, but goals may be measured by project or a shorter time-period.

Step 1: Co-Developing A One-Year Performance Management Plan

Performance Management Systems define how an organization will support its employees as they pursue a set of goals. It also defines how each employee will support a department and/or organization strategic plan.

To set a One-Year Plan, each employee and manager should:

  1. Review the employee’s job description to ensure it is up-to-date and reflects the work the employee is doing and appropriate measurement criteria. This is especially important if the organization is leading change and transformation.
  2. Review how the employee’s work supports the teams and the organization’s goals, objectives and strategic plan.
  3. Identify three to five employee performance objectives for the year. These should be specific and measurable and dependent on:
    • The organization’s strategic plan
    • Key deliverables that are associated with the employee’s responsibilities
    • Employee goals
  4. Recognize that at some point, unexpected opportunities and crisis will happen and will have unexpected (positive and or negative), impact.
  5. Develop a more detailed work plan (tasks / tactics), based on the three to five employee performance objectives.
  6. Specify the consequences for the employee and the organization if they are responsible for the performance objective not being met.

Note: Experienced managers and employees will leave time for unexpected opportunities/crisis (practicing good Time Management).

Step 2. Monitor A Performance Management System / Year Plan

To be effective, performance must be continuously monitored. Therefore, when implementing a performance management system be sure to include an agreed upon way to monitor progress. In today’s work environment where autonomy, relevance and progress are important, monitoring refers to measuring results for both the employees and the organization.

One approach to monitoring I particularly like was introduced to me by one of my previous bosses; it’s what I call ’10-minute laser meetings’. In this case, my boss met with each of his employees once a week for 10-minutes to discuss critical issues on major projects. For each of these meetings, it was each employees responsibility to chair these meetings and be prepared to:

  • Introduce the project and what success looks like (the performance objectives).
  • Share what progress has been made towards meeting the performance objectives.
  • Identify any barriers that may prevent the employee from accomplishing the previously agreed upon performance objectives. (Get management input and support here)
  • Suggest what needs to be done to overcome any barriers. (Get management input and support here)
  • Identify if there has been a shift in organization priorities or if the employee has assumed new / unexpected responsibilities. (Get management input and support here)

Defining the appropriate measurement criteria is one of the most difficult parts of developing the strategic year plan. Remember people often respond better to positive reinforcement vs. punishment. I strongly recommend considering the value of intrinsic motivation to help managers encourage employees.

Step 3. Managing Shortfalls

Sometimes there will be shortfalls. Sometimes those shortfalls are outside of an employees control… and sometimes they are within the employee’s control. In the cases where performance fell short of objectives…

  • Stay positive and cordial – good rarely comes from hostile behavior.
  • Document the challenges/shortfalls encountered:
    • Answer the What, Where, Why questions.
    • Did the challenge fall within or outside of the employee’s control?
  • Are the change management and transformation plans impacting the project?
  • Identify opportunities for coaching… by the manager or professional executive coach.
  • Give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way.
  • Identify areas for training and development.

Throughout the year (perhaps quarterly), managers should formally assess each employee’s performance. The beauty of the laser meetings mentioned above (for example), is that both the manager and employee have up-to date examples of how goals are… or are not being met; there should be no surprises.

Step 4: Continuous Coaching / Having Difficult Conversations

Coaching / mentoring and managing shortfalls can be done by the manager or by bringing in a professional executive coach.

Implementing a performance management also means making sure everyone feel comfortable having difficult conversations. Learning how to give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way helps everyone address performance issues in a productive, supportive way and ensure that even challenging moments lead to a positive contribution.

The role of the coach is to demonstrate good listening skills and to deliver honest feedback. In a coaching role, the manager is not expected to have all the answers… but they do ask questions that help the employee and themselves analyze the situation. Coaching means working with employees to identify opportunities and methods to maximize strengths and improve weak areas.

Mentoring can include providing constructive feedback to address a particular performance issue if an employee is not meeting the agreed upon performance expectations. The beauty (and my belief), importance of weekly 10-minute laser meetings is that challenges or shortfalls are identified early and don’t have time to become critical issues… they are taken care of early when they first arise.

Step 5: Employee Training and Development Plan

A critical part of a Performance Management System is for the manager and each employee to identify areas for further training and development opportunities. These should support the workplace activities that the employee should undertake as well as their career goals and personal goals.

This step should not be taken lightly.  Training and development opportunities must be supported and pursued by the employee, their manager and the HR department. All parties involved must take a leadership role – no matter how high or low on the seniority scale they are.

The main goal here is to find, mentor, train and motivate… and therefore retain top talent all while also leading strategic corporate change. Hiring and training new people is a great expense compared to a modest training and development investment. This is a critical component to the long-term success of a Performance Management System… I cannot emphasis this benefit enough.


A Performance Management System is a much more than recapping performance once-per-year with an annual performance review. As I said above, this is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

Performance management includes activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication. The idea is to ensure resources like talent are valued and maximized (monitored and respected), as much as resources like technology, equipment and finances are monitored and respected.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and leading change.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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