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Putting Your Organization’s Values Into Practice

For many organizations, inclusion and collaboration are core values that drive the work. In our field, we know that we can not do the work on our own – we are better when we have more perspectives and lived experiences at the table and when partners are empowered to drive decisions. But what does this look like in everyday practice?

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We launched a field guide a couple of weeks ago on forming an organizational culture that will set you up to reach the outcomes you seek. The guide is filled with practical recommendations, and to further build on this, we wanted to offer two additional tips on how to live out your culture’s values day-in, day-out. As we’ve seen in our work with Helios Education Foundation and the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, these tips and activities can help bring your organization’s values and culture to life.

Making Your Collaboration Value Stick

For many organizations, inclusion and collaboration are core values that drive the work. In our field, we know that we can not do the work on our own – we are better when we have more perspectives and lived experiences at the table and when partners are empowered to drive decisions. But what does this look like in everyday practice? How can the behaviors that lead to inclusion and collaboration be a part of our daily routines, structures, meetings, and teams?

Form a cross-functional culture working group.

Helios Education Foundation launched a culture working group with staff from across their organization representing every team and every position level, from operations assistants to the chief operating officer. The task for the group was three-fold:

  • Model an effective cross-functional working team
  • Identify and bring attention to culture issues and needs
  • Take a leadership role in defining fun and relationship-building activities

Through monthly meetings and actions in between, the group worked together on a number of new initiatives: managing a new staff engagement survey, rolling out Yammer as an interactive communications app and starting monthly birthday celebrations, occasional group outings to Topgolf, National Donut Day festivities, and many other activities. The working group distributed leadership to live out the culture — everyone owned the change they wanted to see. Representatives from across the organization were included and empowered to decide on and move forward key improvements in the organization, showing that living out these core values can lead to positive results.

Everyday Fun on Your Team

Do you take time for an icebreaker in all-staff meetings? Is team building a priority when you gather? Would your staff describe the organization as a “fun place to work”?

For many organizations, funteamwork, or community are core values. But what does that look like in practice? How can you get into a regular rhythm where fun is not just an annual picnic but an essential part of how you do work?

Take five minutes in the beginning of every staff meeting for a game.

Split into teams and do one round of trivia. Play a round of Pictionary or Charades. Or, as we did recently with our friends at the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and their board, see who can build the tallest free-standing tower out of only 20 balloons and a roll of tape. Make this a regular practice — on a weekly, monthly, or even daily basis — if you want to really live out a value of teamwork and fun in your teams.

We hope these tips help you put your culture into action. For more information, send me a message (whowell@communitywealth.com).

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