Updated: Oct 13, 2020
This is part two of a three part blog series.
As part of its continuing support for leaders at this time Taylor Clarke will be exploring the important subject of values driven culture change at their upcoming ‘Let’s Talk’ event on the 23rd July at 4pm. In the lead up to this event, this article is the second in a three-part series designed to stimulate some thinking and sharing around the subject – looking at the “what”, “why” and “how” around values.
Last week we began with the “what”. We looked at some of the pitfalls associated with a lack of understanding around the role and purpose of values. We then started to look at what values actually are. This week we hope to build on that as we begin to explore why values are so important to the health, sustainability and development of a healthy culture in our organisations.
Last week I suggested that Covid 19 has perhaps helped explain values by spotlighting some of cracks between “real” and “espoused” values within organisations. However, given so much of the corporate and personal impact caused by this crisis, the reasons as to why values are so important and how some organisations fail to embed them have perhaps never been so obvious.
But the need to understand why values matter has always been important. So here are a few of the key reasons why values are so important to your organisation that relate to our experience, the current crisis situation and a sustainable recovery:
Provide a Moral Compass – helping you explore and frame the tough choices and make the right decisions, not the easy ones. Values can provide a sort of moral compass in the face of challenging choices. Helping you consistently and authentically assess and manage the impact on people whilst also ensuring you get the most from them. This is particularly useful around the decisions around who to hire, develop, promote, assign key tasks to and provide more support to.
Helping to explain difficult, unpopular but necessary decisions – in the face of strong opposition, maybe even ethical issues, where there is a big personal impact. Aligning these decisions to your core values also helps you to avoid making those small seemingly unimportant decisions over time, which can leave you disconnected from your values. When you consistently get this right – sticking to your guns on these decisions can also help build trust and personal and ultimately organisational resilience.
Unique driver of competitive differentiation that is difficult to copy – people truly can be your biggest asset and embedding values that support your strategy can create the innovation, service, agility, quality, customer experience or any capability you choose to set you apart. Rather than solely focusing on strategy as a differentiating factor – which can be easily copied by the competition. Your values are a key asset that can’t be bought, only nurtured over time.
A framework for consistent decision making – values can provide a framework and set of principles for consistent decision making by everyone when there are no rules. This can help you to avoid being overly rule bound, and to engage and empower people to make their own decisions. This is critical to great service, quality and agile cultures.
Choosing leaders at all levels – helping you hire, retain and promote leaders whose personal values align with your organisations. This helps to prevent behaviour and choices that contradict your values and create misalignment – which can impact further recruitment, delegation, promotion and development etc. This can avoid having leaders who will obviously steer the culture in their sphere of influence away from your desired values. Because no amount of training,exhortation or feedback will sway peoples deeply held personal values. People often observe that "a certain kind of person" seems to prosper in their organisation and often these are the very people whose personal values match the company's core values
Attracting and retaining talent – in the constant war for talent, consistent, well understood values will help you attract and retain the best talent for your business. People often leave leaders and organisations due to a mismatch of values and the hidden costs are huge. It will also help prospective employees decide if the culture and values of prospective employers is a good match for their own. During lockdown many people have had the opportunity to reflect on how their employer has supported them through the pandemic and demonstrated their true values which could lead to an improvement in engagement or a considerations of other options
These are just a few of the reasons why values are so important to organisations and there are many more.
And as we emerge from lockdown in our current context, there seems a sense that the values and the way these values are deployed from organisations – will be a defining factor in both the general well-being of people and in their continuing engagement with their organisations.
The situation at hand then presents both a challenge and opportunity for organisations to understand “what” their values are – and perhaps the “why” has never been so important.
Greg Neville has nearly two decades of experience developing leaders and teams within the business, non-profit and voluntary sectors. Greg is passionate about helping organisations develop their organisational culture to fulfil the purposes of the organisation and best serve their people. His personal experience of this includes working for organisations in the midst of this process – including his role leading the regional office of a UK wide charity fundraising company and successfully facilitating cultural change that led to a turnaround in performance, results and quality. Greg is passionate about values. His related interests also include the interplay between culture and strategy within organisations, and how organisations communicate values and subsequent culture to personnel within organisations.
Alistair Brown is an experienced multi sector Business leader having worked in leadership positions in global organisations for over 20 years before moving into consulting roles for the last 15 years. My corporate experience was with Johnson and Johnson, Smith & Nephew, Nestle and Hallmark Cards, which included 3 CEO roles and 10 years at board level and cutting my teeth in post M&A integration and cultural change.