Embedding values in a company can be a challenge and yet this is essential for providers within the care sector. A recent Panorama TV programme highlighted poor staff conduct at a care service in South West England.
It is always disappointing to see yet another TV programme showing abusive practice in care homes and tainting the image of the sector. Yet, there are many services with a commitment to high quality standards. But unfortunately, it is not those services that get the media attention or recognition for the good work that they do.
This is evidence alone of the importance of embedding corporate values within care services.
The task of embedding values can never be the work of one individual or indeed one department. It must be the work of the entire organisation to make sure that it is rooted in the way the organisation operates.
A concerted effort to encourage a values based framework has developed within the sector.
Skills for Care has pioneered initiatives and developed practical tools to support providers to recruit, develop and lead their workforce, so that dignity and respect is at the heart of service delivery. (www.skillsforcare.org.uk)
So what are your corporate values?
Organisations should set values that represent the standards they want to achieve. The ethos and outcomes sought for the people they support should feature in their values.
For many, the corporate values exist in the mission statement or business plan, hang on a wall or in a folder that doesn’t see daylight. It is just a paper-based exercise carried out by senior executives and has no significance on how the business operates.
Yet, the values of the organisation should be its DNA, the essence of who they are, what they do and how they do it. This is particularly important for care providers whose main business is supporting vulnerable people.
Define your values
The exercise of defining your corporate values is a great way to engage and involve staff. It is important that the values of the organisation are clear and written down.
They should resonate with staff and also be meaningful to your customers. The values should be short and concise to make sure they are understood and simple to remember.
Demonstrate your values
Once you have defined your values you will need to develop narratives that show the behaviours that underpin your values.
These should create opportunities for staff to embody the values in their day-to-day work. So that the meaning of the values is evident in their behaviours and practice.
An example of this is from work I completed for a client who had the words professional and learning as part of their corporate values. The following narratives demonstrate what being professional and learning should look like in practice:
‘We are professional, drawing on best practice to work together and provide expert care.
We are a learning organisation, continually seeking out ways to improve what we do, using mistakes as development opportunities and embracing innovation and creativity in our approach to care.’
Include values in all HR processes
To embed your values in the organisation, they must be integrated in to all HR processes. This includes the recruitment of staff; to be integral to the learning and development programme; and the supervisions and appraisals system. The values should underline these processes.
Managers should share stories and insights of the values in practice at handovers and in team meetings to help raise awareness of their importance. This will support staff to understand what good practice looks like and the standards expected.
Integrating your values with HR process will also make sure that staff performance is managed in line with the corporate values, so that attitudes and behaviours that do not represent the values are appropriately addressed.
Recognise good practice
Good practice should be recognized and celebrated. Staff who consistently demonstrate the values in their practice, conduct and attitude should also be acknowledged.
In the same manner, poor practice should not be tolerated or ignored, but addressed so that corrective action can be taken.
Edna Petzen @LyndenConsult is the director and consultant at Lynden Consulting, a strategic management, marketing and communications company helping organisations develop marketing strategy, build and protect their brand, improve performance and achieve communication excellence. Find out more