Is there a “do-say” gap in your organization?

By Denise Boudreau-Scott

Is there a “do-say” gap in your organization?  

Organizational values hanging in a fancy frame on the lobby wall, that’s the “say”. Those values being lived every single day by team members and residents, that’s the “do”.

Could They Be Both?

We all know that values aren’t something that belong framed in the lobby if no one actually lives them. Yet there is a tremendous benefit in making your values visible. They can stand as a constant reminder and inspiration to the people that see them each day.  

Take for example two organizations that are taking this reinforcement of values to a different level: United Methodist Communities in New Jersey and Menno Haven in Pennsylvania. Both have created formal ceremonies honoring employee commitment to carrying out their values.  

After I facilitated a workshop for the Menno Haven leadership team, all sixty leaders in attendance walked to the front of the room and signed his or her name on a large poster depicting the values of the organization. As Hugh Davis, CEO of Menno Haven explained, “Every year our team recommits to our values and I hang the signed copy above my desk as a constant reminder of how people are depending on us as leaders to uphold the values of Menno Haven.”

We’re All in This Together

At United Methodist Communities, CEO Larry Carlson spearheaded the creation of a “commissioning service”. This is a time when the organization recognizes the commitment of team members and the team members reaffirm their commitment to the organization. Every associate commits themselves to the mission of UMC by signing a statement that is hung in the location where they work. When I visited the corporate office, the signature of each of the corporate team members who worked in the building surrounded their mission and values.  

Additionally, each year a group of approximately 35 associates goes on a Methodist pilgrimage where they visit the first Methodist churches in our country to see what motivated the original founders. Over the last five years, that group has included a mix of board, leadership, and non-supervisory team members. Talk about getting back to your roots! They’ve even made an inspiring video about their pilgrimage to share their story with others.

How Can You Get Your Team to Recommit to Your Values?

1. First, ask yourself, do our values align with our higher purpose? Are they simply words, or do they truly mean something? If you yourselves as a leader do not feel that your values align with your purpose, then consider refreshing them.

2. Invite team members to make a formal commitment to your purpose as an organization and your values. Maybe the commitment is a signing ceremony, like the examples above, or perhaps it’s each person planting a flower around your campus. Whatever you create, ensure that it’s a ritual that makes every person think about how they are supporting your values in their everyday interactions!