As we continue to live in a world of unrelenting change, what can be constant and unchanging about an organization is its core values that empower team members, builds respect, drives collaboration and inspires trust.
Organizational values are the foundation upon which an organization is built. They are often outlined by the core team of founders and are as important as the mission and the vision of the organization. They are the basic tenets that every employee must know and practice every day. In a way, they are the intangible and invisible drivers of the way employees behave, the way employees interact with each other and the collective ethos of the organization. They also become the guiding principles in decision making within the company. They are founding blocks of a company’s identity and the way it portrays itself to the outside world as well, a reflection of the company to its external stakeholders. “The culture of a workplace – an organization’s values, norms and practices – has a huge impact on our happiness and success” says Adam Grant, Professor at Wharton and American psychologist. When people work together, a comfortable level of bonding is required for optimum productivity. Values defined by the organization tie employees together in a shared bond. When there is an environment of mutual respect and shared values, it drastically improves the morale and the performance of the employees.
For any organization its values should be sacrosanct. We have several examples of these in public life, how certain principles are expected to be upheld by all individuals, for example “life, liberty, justice” as proclaimed in the United States Independence Declaration or the six fundamental rights that the Indian constitution bestows upon its citizens are some such tenets. At an entity level, a strong example of value-based organization is the armed forces. The values and the code of conduct are deeply entrenched in the culture and lived by every soldier.
“When there is an environment of mutual respect and shared values, it drastically improves the morale and the performance of the employees.”
Values are fundamental to the existence and seamless growth of the organization. In fact, value alignment is a critical factor that gets evaluated during merger and acquisition explorations.
Values can have a profound impact on employee morale, attitudes and behaviours 1. Inspiring the workforce -Values can help employees find meaning and purpose, to care about what the company is doing, and to link their individual efforts to organizational goals 2. Aligning actions- With employees having to make so many complex decisions, values offer a set of guiding principles 3. Transcending individual conflicts-Values provide a language and a way of celebrating individual differences and accepting varied view points So how do you ensure that the values are an integral part of the culture of the organization?
Constantly Communicate Across Various Touch Points – Put them out there for everyone to see. Have them written in employee handbooks, on the company website and even on the walls of conference rooms or places where employees gather. The values should always be at the back of everyone’s mind and infused into their thoughts and actions. To make that happen, they need to be exhibited and reiterated repeatedly. Whenever any work is done or communicated to employees, leaders must create relevance for the values and get the message across.
Leaders Must Walk The Talk – Managers at all levels should be the ones to take this forward. They should pave the way for their team by playing by the same values and rules that they expect colleagues to live by. By continuously focusing on the values and showing colleagues how they can become a differentiator from other companies, they can play a critical role in reinforcing the importance of values.
Hire Based On Values – Your company’s values should align with the employee’s personal values and only then will they blend with the way things are done around your organization. When you interview someone, it is more important to know how they think rather than just whether they know the job well. Asking the right set of questions is necessary to lead to an appropriate hire for your company.
“Values are fundamental to the existence and seamless growth of the organization. In fact, value alignment is a critical factor that gets evaluated during merger and acquisition explorations.”
Reward The Ones, Who Carry Your Values Forward – When you show recognition by applauding and rewarding someone who works and upholds your organizational values, you send out the right message to the team. You boost the morale of the person in question, making them realize that they are on the right path. Values-based leadership also requires constantly communicating those values at every opportunity possible – in every company meeting, every time a person is publicly recognized and in every coaching moment when mistakes are made.
Zero tolerance in case of a breach – if you believe in your organizational values, it is imperative that all your employees believe in it too. When that value is breached, then it leads to the organizational structure getting disordered. Just as recognition should be given to employees who further company values, those who don’t follow them should be pulled up and cautioned. Organizations must commit to defining, communicating and creating environments their people can thrive in. We live in a world of unrelenting change but what remains constant are organizations’ core values. They are the cornerstone that empowers team members, builds respect, drives collaboration and inspires trust.