Monday, January 16, 2017

Values Can Take Time to Change Culture

It's been a while since I wrote about core values on this blog, but a thought occurred to me the other day that seemed like it was worth sharing.

My association has a set of core values (long story there; check out this index of posts if interested in reading more) and we now consistently use them in our hiring and on-boarding process. We interview not just for skills but for fit with our values, and we reinforce the importance of finding that fit by assessing the new employee after three months to determine if we got the fit right. We want people in our organization who walk and talk our values, and the 3-month review is an opportunity reinforce that commitment, provide helpful encouragement and feedback, and, if necessary, make a different decision.

We do these things because we believe that the values have the power to change our culture for the better, but only if we take them seriously in the hiring and on-boarding processes of the organization.

But here's the thought that occurred to me. Given the relative small size and stability of our organization, any culture change that results from this commitment to our values is going to take some time to manifest itself. Time not as in weeks and months, but more likely time as in years.

If you're looking for culture change solely as a result of baking your values into your hiring and on-boarding process, then by definition you'll need to do a lot of hiring and on-boarding before you can expect to see a lot of culture change as a result. If you have only a handful of staff positions, and only fraction of those turn over with any regularity, you'll have to find other mechanisms for those values to work their culture change potential on your organization.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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