Why next-gen employees won’t work for bossy bosses

We all know those workplaces. They’re a little bit like classrooms. A middle manager (teacher) and a bunch of bored workers looking at the clock (students). But the workplace of the future will be different. For starters, younger workers want to work for a company with strong values.

Here are some tips on how to create a better workplace with great values.

1. Choose values that make your business stand apart.

Words like “integrity” and “transparency” really are not core values, they are the basic “table stakes” of any workplace or employee. Core values should be at the heart of what makes it special to work at your company specifically. Some examples include “act like an owner,” “raise your bar” and “attitude of gratitude.”

2. Keep the list short.

It’s important to get to the core of what you value succinctly. Employees should be able to remember company values without a piece of paper. Two years ago, we reluctantly narrowed the list at our company down to from six values to these three and it was one of our best decisions:

  • Own It. We step up to the opportunities in front of us, bet on our own abilities, and rise to the occasion.
  • Embrace Relationships. Relationships advance our personal and professional lives, contributing greatly to our successes.

3. Communicate and support the values you set.

It’s not enough to have core values. You have to live them.

Company leaders need to talk about core values a lot, tell core values stories, and use values in the language of the day-to-day business. Call out people for both living by them and breaking them.

4. Encourage collective enforcement.

Values are far more effective than rules at eliciting desired outcomes and behaviors. It’s virtually impossible to cover all possible situations with rules or monitor minute-by-minute adherence.

In contrast, values can cover an endless variety of situations. Most importantly, enforcement comes from all the employees, who should be encouraged to openly question decisions or actions that are incongruous with the values. This is what translates values from words on paper into lived company culture.

5. Hire, promote and fire based on values.

Keeping someone whose views and actions clash with the culture sends a very bad message to the rest of the company. Even if the employee is a top performer, the best companies cut the cord when they realize there is a culture or values mismatch.

To avoid getting to this point, be sure to include behavior-based core value questions in the interview process and use them in performance reviews and promotion decisions. This follow-through shows everyone that the company is consistent in supporting values at every level.

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