When employees don’t understand the values or the mission of a company, it’s because the executives who hire them don’t either. Sure they have the list, maybe on their wall or as a screen saver, but they don’t live the values themselves.

So how can the thought process of upholding values be passed on to the employees?

While it’s commendable that companies have a set of values, the ones who truly live by those standards, and hold their employees accountable, should receive the praise. But the example setters are management. The ones who have to show – by their actions – that they believe in those values, are the top executives. And then it follows down the line. Those who are considered lower-level managers, the ones in charge of each company branch or team, should not be forgotten. They need to be equally trained to uphold those values.

Values should be so ingrained in all management that it carries over to their personal life. Which is a great thing, since most values consist of honesty, humility, integrity and the like.

But what the values in the company stand for is what will set an organization apart from its competitors.

So why the breakdown in upholding company values? This is because leadership is ill informed. They’re taught at the beginning of the process the company values, but they’re not instilled in them. Values need to be a constant reminder of why people are there, what they do and for whom, and how they can display those values. As management continues to be trained and reminded and expected to fulfill those values, their actions are closely watched by their employees. When leadership takes the lead in fulfilling these values, such as honesty, their employees are moved to do the same.

How can you start?

First, learn the values and what each stands for. Find out how the company is implementing them. Get specific examples of what’s working.

Then, choose one value at a time. Focus on that value for the day or the week if necessary, and think of some ways to implement it. Keep the value in front of you as a constant reminder.

For example, if the value is excellent customer service, are there some ways you could do more than you have in the past to make a customer happy? Give the customer some dignity?

Or if the value is integrity, could that include an employee’s integrity? A customer’s integrity? When you uphold integrity in one area, you uphold the integrity of the company.

As you go through each value, repeat the process. Review what worked, what didn’t. Try new things each time you focus on that value. Do this enough and it will become a normal routine. The values will come naturally.

Share the results with your team. Commend employees, in front of their peers, when values are upheld. If an employee needs encouragement to do better in this area, speak with him or her in private.

Remember, if you’re a leader, your employees will follow you. Take the initiative, display humility if you make a mistake, and try again. The more you uphold the company’s values, the more you will have a team of employees who do the same. And the work environment will be more stable.