Values and culture
How often does your organisation talk about its values?
Our values are the principles we decide are important to us. As a community organisation, the principles that matter to you might reflect your purpose or vision and your aims, and they can help you to shape your organisation’s culture.
Having a shared set of values that you want to promote across your organisation helps to provide purpose and direction. Values are often shown in the way people behave, which means they can guide how your organisation interacts with people, from its members and participants to its volunteer workforce, paid staff, stakeholders, and investors.
Below are some examples of organisational values from across the sport and physical activity sector, to help your organisation and its people consider what might be most important for them.
Chelsea Handball Club
Brighton Table Tennis Club
It isn’t just about saying your values out loud or writing them down. They need to be ‘lived’ across your organisation. This will help you to keep your purpose at the heart of your operations and create a culture that promotes and embeds the things you and your people care about.
Culture is ‘the way we do things around here’.
Your culture, often described as ‘the way we do things around here’, is shaped by the behaviours and values of people who are already involved with your organisation. People who join the organisation are guided by the actions and values shown by others, both good and bad. When an organisation can successfully embed, live by and promote its chosen values in everything they do, this will support and motivate everyone involved to act accordingly.
Many community clubs and groups already recognise the importance of creating an inclusive environment for all. Having a welcoming, positive culture that people feel comfortable in is key to this, which in turn is supported by developing a set of shared values. Portico Vine ARLFC’s volunteering culture, with an accompanying Code of Ethics, is a great example of this.
Why is it important to have a set of values?
Having a set of values can contribute to your success by:
- Shaping your culture.
- Setting your future direction and steering decision making.
- Promoting and protecting inclusivity.
- Creating a ‘personality’ for your organisation, which can support marketing and fundraising.
- Bringing people together through shared values.
- Differentiating you from competitors.
- Improving your chances of attracting new participants and volunteers who share your values.
- Boosting the engagement and motivation of existing members and volunteers.
- Helping potential partners, stakeholders and investors to identify whether you align with their own values and purpose and visa-versa.
When defining your values, consider your organisation’s vision and purpose so you can identify the values to support them. You can use the prompts below to help start your discussions
- What’s your organisation’s purpose?
- What values might help you achieve this purpose?
- How do you want others to see you?
- How do you think others currently see you?
- What experience do you want to offer your participants, volunteers, and wider stakeholders?
- What experience do you think they currently have?
Involve people from across your organisation as you consider your values. This will help to ensure different voices are reflected in the final set of values, creating ownership of them across your club or group.
Once you’ve considered the above, you might feel ready to commit to a set of values. You can use the questions below to check and challenge your thinking:
- How will your values shape the way your organisation works, including its processes and practices?
- What does each individual value mean to your organisation?
- How will you know if you and your people are living your values?
- Think of some examples of the behaviours and actions that represent each value. How can you encourage these?
Once you’ve agreed your values, it’s important to embed them into the way you operate, so that they become part of your culture. Some examples of how you could do this are set out below, but this isn’t an exhaustive list - the methods you use will be unique to your organisation.
- Consider the experience of your participants and volunteers. Identify all the points where your values are relevant – for example, how are people welcomed? This will help you ensure the processes and practices underpinning this experience fit with your values and culture.
- Introduce your values to people straightaway. How and when are people first made aware of your values? Including them during an induction for participants and your workforce helps to send a clear message to new joiners about what to expect from their experience, and what is expected of them.
- Match your actions to your values. Consider how you can make it easier to embed your values into your day-to-day activities. For example, if inclusivity is a core value, actions to help ensure this value is lived might include giving everyone a warm welcome, understanding people’s barriers to taking part and reducing them where possible, letting people know you value them and fostering a ‘one-club-or-team’ approach.
- Consider your values in the way you recruit and develop people. Explore ways to check that people share and will live your values through your recruitment and development processes. Look at how you support your volunteers and staff through training, development opportunities and creating a positive environment for your workforce.
- Review your processes when issues arise. If an issue or incident arises, use this as a prompt to review your procedures and see if you need to make any changes.
- Hold people to account. If an individual acts in ways that doesn’t match your values and culture, positively challenge their behaviour by helping them to understand your values, and why they are important.
- Be consistent, but flexible. Consistency is key to embedding your values. However, you may need to think about ways to update and protect your values during times of change.
Our case study on Chelsea Handball Club demonstrates how an organisation has embedded an inclusive culture within their organisation.
Promoting your values is an important part of embedding them within your organisation. You can share regular reminders of your values and encourage awareness of your organisation’s purpose by:
- Mentioning your values and purpose in all meetings.
- Displaying your values and purpose around your facilities, for example in posters.
- Mentioning them in regular communications shared with participants, volunteers, and stakeholders, including through social media.
- Including discussion of your purpose, values and expected behaviours during induction and any membership renewal processes.
- Highlighting examples of people living your organisation’s values, such as by rewarding specific behaviours and actions, showcasing individuals on social media and offering awards.
Consider developing a short summary of what your values mean to your organisation, which you can share easily. For example, the Activity Alliance sets out their values as below:
Activity Alliance - Our values
Everything we do is underpinned by our shared values. They shape our work and support us to embed a strong dynamic culture across our organisation.
We care - we are passionate about what we do, and who we do it for.
We unite - we collaborate with others to achieve greater outcomes.
We champion - we recognise everyone's voice must be heard if we are to provide equitable places to live, work and thrive.
It can be useful to monitor the success of your efforts to embed your values and create a positive culture. To help, think about what might demonstrate success and create ways to track and measure these. This might include:
- How your participants, volunteers and stakeholders feel about your organisation.
- People’s awareness of your values and purpose, and whether they agree that these are clear across your operations.
- Engagement and retention levels across your volunteers and participants.