How to communicate your values

The words together we will change the world written in white chalk on a grey playground floor

Over the years I have spoken at a few careers events, for young people at school and students at university. One of the key things I emphasise is the importance of being clear in your own mind what you value and then looking for employers and opportunities that match those values.

That’s not always an easy concept to get your head round and can be even trickier to put into practice when you need a job to pay the bills. How do you know what an organisation values? As communications people, we can help to identify and highlight the things that are important at our organisations in a number of ways.

Identify the values

A few years ago, I was involved with a consultation on organisational values for one of my clients. I facilitated group conversations with staff and volunteers in a whole host of roles. It was an enjoyable project for many reasons:

  • I travelled all over the UK
  • I met lots of lovely people doing amazing roles
  • Even when group participants disagreed with each other or with me, they were very considerate about it – “I disagree with you there, isn’t that funny!”
  • Most importantly the process was genuinely consultative, with the words changing in light of consistent feedback from staff and volunteers

This project was a chance to put into practice two key areas for communicators.

Firstly, communications teams need to listen to audiences’ views (in this case about values) and reflect those back to leaders; we are often best placed to do that, as we work with many groups and are approachable.

Secondly, it is important that we help leaders to use that insight to shape what happens next.

Highlight the values

Communications roles have many strands. We listen. We strategise. We understand. We collaborate and connect. We find and tell stories.

At its core, our job is about finding the right content and using it to create outcomes for our audiences. Values are a rich source of content.

Here are my top tips for communicating your values:

  • Find and tell stories that illustrate the things that are recognised and rewarded. Be intentional about the things you choose.
  • Involve multiple voices to show that the values words on the walls can be lived out in different ways that are true to the essence of the organisation, as well as to the individual.
  • Use appropriate language that reflects the underlying beliefs. Sometimes we may inadvertently illustrate something we didn’t mean by choosing the wrong words.
  • Call out instances where the values that are alleged to represent our organisation are not the reality that is experienced day to day.

I would love to hear how you and your communications team are working in this area, so please do get in touch. And if you’re not sure where to start to develop a values-led approach to your communications, let’s have a chat about how we work together.

Until next time


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