Bottom line profits are truly where it’s at for businesses. Nearly everything a business does is referenced to its affect on profit. Of course there are things that are just necessary to be ethical and honorable in business that negatively impact the bottom line short term, but the overall reasoning is a sustained robust bottom line.

It’s tempting to create processes and rules as an attempt to protect the bottom line. There is this unsettling mentality that employees are out to cost the company money and they need to be controlled. Therefore, employees believe that companies are only out for the money and simply make their jobs more difficult (or even impossible) for the sake of a dollar. The unintended result is an “us vs. them” mentality which actually lowers the bottom line through poor productivity and high turnover.

One of the best drivers of a strong bottom line (outside of fiscal responsibility) is an emotional commitment from employees. When people are emotionally committed to your organization, they make different decisions and are more prone to exert a greater degree of discretionary effort as they do their job. You can’t put emotional commitment into your employee handbook. It can’t be a part of the role description. Employees have to choose to do this. It is the pinnacle of permission based leadership.

Emotional commitment comes from values alignment. As people, we have an emotional connection with our values. They influence how we view ourselves and they help form our world view. No amount of policies and procedures will change someone’s values. As an organization, you have to be exceptionally clear on your values; not only in what they are, but in how leadership pro-actively lives out those values publicly.

Here are a few tips on how values can bring about a greater degree of emotional commitment in your organization.

  • Don’t have too many – It may seem like you should have a larger number to show how values oriented you are, but it becomes confusing and provides too many opportunities for people to have a values conflict. It also makes them easier to remember. Keep it between 4 and 6 values. Choose them wisely and make sure they are authentic and support your vision and purpose.
  • Prioritize your values – It’s all but guaranteed that a situation will put a couple of your values in conflict with one another. If you have prioritized them, the one with the higher priority always wins. It takes out the anxiety of having to decide which value they should follow. It’s painfully clear because your values are listed in order of importance. It’s another layer of communication and accountability.
  • Publicly reinforce them – If a situation arose and an employee made a decision that was values-based, make a big deal about it. Celebrate the alignment with the values of your company by that employee. This adds importance to them and people will find a greater emotional commitment not only to your organization, but to your values as well.
  • Use them to make company decisions – Sooner or later you will be faced with some difficult times and issues. If you communicate your response to these difficulties to your employees and align the decisions with your values, you are setting the example you want employees to follow. If you’re seen to take it on the chin for the sake of living out your values, you will gain respect and commitment from your employees.
  • Use values for recruiting – Incorporate values alignment with a part of the recruiting process. Don’t just hire a rock star who has great skills but doesn’t share the same values as your organization. It won’t ever be a good fit. Hire for character, culture fit, chemistry and competence…in that order.

What are some other ways you have seen values used well for a stronger bottom line?

  • Hi guys,

    Really enjoyed and fully endorse your thinking here – have re-tweeted it as well. Changing the worlds a team sport – keep it coming!! PL

  • Many thanks Paul. Love the “changing the world is a team sport”! So true. I appreciate your insight.

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  • Thanks heaps for the mention in your blog post Justin!

  • Great post. I think the empahsis on the long view is especially critical.

    One acid test for whether a company is simply mouthing values or actually living them: has anyone ever been fired for a values violation?

  • Good point Sandy. I think many HR departments are a little skittish about talent management on this topic. Thanks for contributing!

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  • Dan Henson

    Emotional Commitment; The values or culture of a company has to start at the top. Long term great companies have top leaders that pratice values that, in time, become the culture of that company. Cultures can not be bought, but are proven over time, by doing the right thing, time after time.

  • I couldn’t agree more with you Dan. Culture is hard work and a serious commitment for sure. Thanks heaps for your contribution!