Communicating values Open CPT

Communicating values - From posters on the wall to something we live

Communicating values Open CPT


Communicating values

From posters on the wall to something we live

By: Kristina Malther, Managing Director, Open CPT (August 8, 2018)


We recently did a Dialogue Matters session on Ethics and values that gave me an opportunity to gather a number of cases and examples - as well as my thoughts - on what really works when it comes to communicating values internally.

Why values matter

First off, corporate values are sometimes laughed at or dismissed as corporate b...s... but I must say, that I have seen many examples of values that truly work when it comes to:

  • Building a strong culture. Especially in large organisations with multiple geographies, demographics, businesses etc. Values act as the glue that ties it all together.
  • Helping people make the right choices on an everyday basis. When values work, they help us navigate effectively and make decisions in a complex world.
Iceberg model - Open CPT
Iceberg model

With free inspiration from Edgar Schein, I often use the iceberg model to illustrate how values are driving our behaviour on an often unconscious level - alongside our beliefs. In order to succeed with real behavioural change, we need to make sure that our values are in sync with the behaviour, we are trying to foster.

Another perspective, offered by Cynthia Schoeman from Ethics Monitor at our session, was this: when it comes to ethical behaviour, rules and regulations (compliance) is the stick, whereas values are the carrot. Values can proactively drive ethical behaviour when they are fully lived by employees.

Off the wall - and into our hearts and minds

Truth be told, there are many corporate values that never make it off the wall and into the hearts and minds of employees. And that is when they are shrugged at.

At Open, we have helped implement or revitalise corporate values in many organisations. And I can happily report, it's something that is only growing in importance and focus. Alongside the focus on compliance communication. Carrot and stick.

These are some of the things we know work well and help get the values off the wall and into the hearts and minds:

Get values off the wall and into the hearts and minds

Tip 1: Storytelling and authenticity

We need to tell real stories about the values and what they mean to people. Stories that are at eye-level with all employees - not just management - and stories that allow for imagination and interpretation. So less corporate lingo, less bullets, less instructions - more stories, more people, more authenticity.

And try to incorporate a storytelling element in your engagement activities e.g. bonfire talks where people share stories about how colleagues have truly exemplified and lived the values (I can promise you, that these can be some of the most heartwarming talks you'll ever hear in an organisational setting).

Tip 2: Engage and activate

And most importantly: instead of telling people too much about the values and how they must be understood, allow them to fill in the gaps themselves, reflecting on how they understand the values - and crucially - how they apply the values in their particular job. This can only be done in true, open dialogue, which is why every values roll-out must incorporate tools and templates to facilitate this at every level of the organisation.

If I am the cashier at Pick 'n Pay, I need a chance to figure out how 'We take individual responsibility' and how I translate that into everyday actions at the till. Dialogue tools and dilemma exercises in a team setting will help this process along - also in a large organisation.

Tip 3: Make it fun

It goes for most things: people are much more likely to engage with anything if it's fun and entertaining. And this doesn't mean silly or superficial. Use gamification: do a values quiz, create a values Black Jack card deck, or maybe a values charades game that will kick-start reflection and add a bit of team building at the same time.

And then show emotions and allow for real conversations to happen. People want to talk about people, and people want to talk about what matters to them. Values are a great opportunity to do just that.

Integrate values in the employee lifecycle

To stay top of mind, values must be an integral part of your onboarding of new people, your performance management, your strategy and your leadership communication to name a few.

It's a good idea to look at it from an employee lifecycle perspective: when and how should a prospective employee experience the values? How should the values be reflected in the ongoing development activities? How do the values come into play in the day-to-day operations?

Values must be activated and applied constantly to be relevant. And to become an integral part of your culture.

Finally, remember that living values doesn't happen overnight and with one campaign - it takes constant focus and activation at every possible opportunity.

Get in touch for more examples and ideas on how to communicate corporate values internally.











New partnership - Open CPT

Life Healthcare - new collaboration


Internal communication strategy - Life Healthcare
Open CPT creates an internal communication strategy 

Open CPT collaborates with Life Healthcare

We are excited to collaborate with Life Healthcare Group on internal communication. Making Life better!
For more on how we do internal communication strategy, please see our latest post up on the blog.

About Open CPT

Open CPT is an internal communication agency based in Cape Town, South Africa. We develop innovative ways of communication with employees, leaders and stakeholders to drive engagement and create sustainable change.

Open CPT is a subsidiary of leading European employee communication agency, Open, and rooted in Open's principles of creativity, involvement and simplicity.

Drawing on a decade of experience from working with some of Europe's largest corporations, we offer fresh as well as tried-and-tested approaches.



Get your internal communication strategy on track

Internal Communication strategy - Open CPT


By: Kristina Malther, Managing Director, Open CPT (August 7, 2018)


We've heard it before: In the past decade, internal communication has gone from being a largely operational post office kind-of-function, to a strategic discipline, supporting the execution of business goals and employee engagement.

But oddly, many internal communicators still work without a strategy, often resulting in random priorities and a reactive behaviour. And most unfortunately, a lack of strategic line of sight between business objectives and internal communication.

Maybe it's because the task of developing an internal communication strategy seems daunting and difficult?

Maybe it's down to a lack of tradition in the field, who knows...

Why do you need an internal communication strategy?

Either way, the fact of the matter is that an internal communication strategy will help you:

  • Get buy-in - from stakeholders. With a business case, goals and KPI's you are more likely to get budgets and buy-in from your leadership.
  • Get more strategic - Duh! This seems obvious, but really, a strategy does help you become more strategic and structured in your approach - from being reactive to being proactive.
  • Demonstrate progress - once you have goals, KPI's, feedback flows and metrics in place, it's much easier to show the progress you make.
  • Delegate tasks - internal communication should not just sit at HQ - it should happen at all levels of the organisation. But without a strategy, mobilising managers and influencers is difficult.
  • Link to business strategy and goals - finally, and the most important point here; we don't do internal communication for its own sake - internal communication must support business objectives. An internal communication strategy is the way to connect the dots.
Internal communication strategy - Open CPT
Tips to help you along the way

Tips & tricks

1. Get insights
You can't develop a strategy without knowing the needs and gaps you are trying to cover. A mix of desk research, qualitative interviews, observations, and quantitative data will give you the insights you need. But don't expect yourself to necessarily do the mother of all surveys and an anthropological study first off. You should also focus on setting up ways to get ongoing data and feedback going forward. Perhaps you've already got insights in the shape of engagement surveys, user data, etc.

2. Involve stakeholders
Internal communication isn't an island. So early involvement of relevant stakeholders, eg. HR, IT, Marketing and top management is essential to not only get insights on how internal communication will create business value, but also in getting a broader ownership or internal communication going forward.

3. Use a simple framework
You don't have to reinvent the wheel and figure out a new and never-before-seen way of doing an internal communication strategy. There are templates and structures in place for what needs to be included in an internal communication strategy. Use them.

4. Don't overdo it
An internal communication strategy should be a living document - not a manifestation set in stone or your lifetime achievement. Timebox the process and rather opt for revising and reiterating once you've got it out there. After all, the point is to get out there and communicate, so you can help your organisation achieve its goals.

5. Make it travel
Too many great strategies end up in the drawer because no one wants to read those 50 slides. Make your internal communication strategy sharable by creating one-pagers and easy overviews that others can relate to. Share it at every occasion you have, share your progress and then share it again.

How to do it?

Developing an internal communication strategy doesn't have to be a gigantic project taking the best part of a year.

Over time, we have developed a simple process and approach to developing internal communication strategies - a process which is doable with a reasonable amount of resources and in three months. A fast-track process looks like this:

Good luck with your strategy!

Get in touch with Open CPT if you need help with your internal communication strategy.