Living Your Organization's Values

Recently, I held a workshop at Skate Canada’s Annual Congress and General Meeting in Toronto and shared my views on how sport organizations can benefit from identifying their values and using them intentionally. My research on nine National Sport Organizations (NSOs) showed me that a sport organization demonstrates evidence of a strong and resilient culture when it states its values and embeds those values within the organization’s communications. Additional evidence includes the extent to which the leaders know the organization’s values, whether or not values are taken into consideration when making decisions, and the degree to which values have been identified and defined by a cross-section of members (not just a few individuals in a boardroom).

The following tips may be helpful to sport leaders who are thinking about investing in their organization’s culture through their values:

Tip 1: Review your organization’s values and consider broadening the dialogue to engage staff, key volunteers and others in the conversation. Dina’s research revealed that all NSOs believe that the values defined by the national office are for the entire sport. If this is true, then including as many voices in the process will increase trust and help to ensure that the values you have are the right ones.

Tip 2: Once you have identified your values, define what they mean. Pay attention to how you might measure progress against that value. Consider how that value might impact your sport. Ensure that the definition is brought to life in creative ways. For example, Skate Canada divided its national office into five teams - with each team taking a value and spending time trying to find the right language to describe in detail the significance of that value to the organization. In a day-long workshop, Skate Canada staff came together to share their definitions through skits, role playing, and other creative expressions.

Tip 3: Be expressive. Consider putting the values on your walls. Add them to your letterhead and email signature line. Know them the way you know your phone number. Use them in your strategic communications and consider how your values can be used to guide your LTAD plans or other major change initiative.

Tip 4: Evaluate your staff, volunteers and your organization’s progress against your values. Find ways to measure your values. Skate Canada has an employee of the month that is recognized by his or her peers for bringing Skate Canada’s values to life. Research indicates that employees not only care about how much they earn but they also place a significant importance on peer recognition and other public display of gratitude.

Tip 5: Keep updated on new values-related literature and strategies. One way to keep informed would be to continue to read the Centre for Sport and Law newsletter and our writings!

Originally published: Centre for Sport and Law Newsletter (2010) Vol. 6(3)

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