Values – what’s the fuss about?
How much money and how many hours been wasted on the hypocrisy of corporate values? How many offsite meetings, focus groups, committees or similar have you been involved in to carefully construct the exact, most perfect arrangement of words that will be on lanyards, inductions and reception areas of your organisation? What if it’s all been a waste of time?
Because values play such an important role in our own lives (perhaps sub-consciously), being able to recognise, understand and articulate one’s own values set becomes critical in sound decision making. Additionally, the ability to identify with an employer’s corporate values will assist in determining an employee’s job performance and allegiance.
Consequently, when an individual discovers genuine and meaningful alignment between his or her own personal values with those of his or her employer, a powerful connection is created.
We know organisational values shape the vision and culture of an organisation, whilst underwriting its standards. These values may be articulated or not, or perhaps the values are just assumed through behaviours.
For many of us, particularly in large organisations, we are handed a shiny new ID card with a lanyard attached, or some other memory prompt with a list of values on it. That is generally accompanied by some further understanding of their intention and purpose, either through induction training, your immediate manager or HR. Perhaps you have even been involved in the focus groups or some other such activity designed to create the buy-in to the ultimate values created.
How effective is this process? Is the person presenting the values convincing? Moreover, do they walk the walk, or are they simply talking the talk? What if the company’s values are divergent to your own? Are you still willing to do go to work every day and participate, doing the best job possible, or will you simply just become a passenger on the bus?
The process of defining, measuring, or improving core values can be an excellent vehicle for improving organisational culture.
Using values to drive cultural change yields some great benefits, such as defining a behavioural compass and the way employees treat each other, as well as identifying a guide for decisions and emphasising what’s important.
Not sure what your organisation values are? Take a look at your calendar and organisation’s financials – where is the most time and money spent? – there’s your values!
In my experience, the most common issues with corporate values are in 2 distinct areas:
1. Translating those fantastic words into something employees can identify with day to day, everyday – without defining the behaviours that sit underneath those values. How can you drive accountability if employees can’t link their actions & behaviours (or lack thereof) to the desired?
2. No effort is put into how to measure the behaviours associated with the values. Companies do not measure behaviour and give it the same weight and level of importance as more objective (and more easily measured) performance criteria.
Addressing these issues will ensure that you will reap the actual benefits of real, definable and measurable values.
So what? Consider your own values, and the next time you are at work look at your organisation’s values and see if there is alignment or not with you personally. It may just give the answer to why you look forward to either Mondays, or Fridays!