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Communication is vital for embedding cultural values in any organisation - but Domna Lazidou says, for real success, internal communicators must be more than 'message deliverers'. Find out why you should attend her IoIC masterclass. 

 Where are your organisation’s values?  If you answered ‘On a poster’ or ‘In our handbook’, you’re wrong.
“The stuff written on a bit of paper or a poster are not actually the values,” says comms consultant Domna, who researched ‘Culture in Multinational Companies’ for her PhD from Cranfield University.
“There’s clear distance between the artefacts we produce and the actual feeling of culture in an organisation.”
Strong, clear, shared values are key to brand advocacy, increased engagement and sustained performance – and communication is at the heart of articulating, embedding and sustaining such values.
However, Domna says: “The role of communicators in this process is frequently misunderstood and relegated to that of ‘message deliverer ’. They’re asked to create materials and write articles to ‘tell people what the values are’ without playing a part in the crucial process of mapping or shaping these values.”
She says this omission lies at the heart of many failed values programmes and the belief that most organisations and leaders only pay lip service to the values they communicate.
Her one-day masterclass for senior communicators will address this, helping attendees think differently about culture and comms, and how to approach values in their communication.
Domna says the growing lack of trust in business and talk of toxic cultures at large corporations means there’s a real need for a new look at values and how they are communicated.
“Many organisations say they’re changing their culture and redesigning their values – but they aren’t really doing that,” she says. “They’re failing because they don’t understand how to do it.
“There’s a gap and communicators can fill that gap. They need more input and more tools to step in and make a difference.
“The role of the communicator is not to simply take the values statement produced by HR directors or leaders and turn it into messages.
“Because communicators understand the subtleties of communication and the difference between message and meaning, they need to be at the heart of articulating the values of the organisation in the first place.”
She says that would also help avoid a standard pitfall where organisations tell employees ‘These are our values’ – but they are so far from the real culture that no-one believes in them.
Domna cites an organisation she studied where one of their values was: ‘We make the complex simple’.
“What I found was that there was so much complexity and bureaucracy employees had inverted it. People would actually say ‘We take the simple and make it complex’.
“Instead of creating a sense of ‘we must change this’, that value created derision and cynicism.”
However, Domna’s research shows that values can change culture for the better – but only if you know what the real culture is.
“You have to understand what elements of the everyday culture you’re looking to influence,” she says. “Then you can shape them and the dialogue, and make it positive rather than negative.”

Diary date

 The one-day masterclass, ‘Make Your Values Matter’, will be held in London on Thursday 3 November – click here for booking details.
It’s aimed at senior communicators, head of comms or equivalent. Domna says: “It’s for people who want to have an influence on their leaders.
“They’ll go away thinking very differently about culture and comms, and how to approach values in their communication. They’ll have specific tools to deal with that, including arguments to have in conversation with their leaders.” 
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