I often find myself sitting in a room with a group of senior managers and I ask the question: “Tell me about your company values and how are they applied?”
The response varies; sometimes it will be shifting eyes from co-worker to co-worker in the hope that someone else will answer. Other times someone will say, “I think there’s five of them? Or is it seven?.Is one of them Integrity?…umm or Honesty?”.
What is the use of values if they are not implemented and understood?
Many organisations spend time and resources on creating their core values. They then put them on their website, email signature and in a nice frame on the wall in reception. Unfortunately that’s often where they stay.
Let me tell you – truly successful organisations do much, much more than that. They have the values absorbed into the culture and they are applied in all they do.
How an organisation demonstrates their values can vary and there is no right or wrong. The important thing is that every member of staff is on the same page. Understanding what the organisation’s values are and how to demonstrate them in the workplace will make the business stronger as a whole.
Take this company for example – NewGold Peak Gold Mine, in Cobar, NSW.
Their 5 core values are:
· Develop Our Employees
They believe “our values are what guide our behaviour in achieving our vision and mission”. This is obvious in the conversation, from the behaviour and the decision making of the CEO right through to the Supervisors on-site. They don’t just have their values ‘hanging on the wall’, instead they are embedded into their culture.
Personal values can be categorised into ethical/moral, ideological/cultural, social, and aesthetic. While workplace values are typically things such as: conduct, dedication, honesty, integrity, accountability, and collaboration.
It is important to keep in mind that personal values differ from individual to individual, whereas workplace values are a set of values upheld by a team or a group of people.
Conflicting values can occur when entering the workplace. With your own set of personal values, it may be difficult adapting to a new set of team-based values. For example, you may over-hear two colleagues having a heated discussion about another colleague and the quality of their work. This type of behavior may be embedded in their personal values and how they deal with conflict, but the organisations values state that there should be no bad mouthing or secrecy in the office. You are then put in a difficult position of making a decision as to whether you will tell your manager about the breach of the organisations values.
Team building days, workshops and weekly staff newsletters, are all good places to rehash on the organisations values. Often giving staff members hypothetical, value-based dilemmas is a good way of instilling what you would like to see happen when conflicts occur. It also sets a benchmark for future reference.
A values driven organisation is a powerful one. Not only does it strengthen staff members sense of team but also makes the workplace a happier community. Ask yourself what your organisations values are and see if you know the answer.
Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.
Contact Kellie Mills on firstname.lastname@example.org