The Impact of Organisational Values

Values. Loaded word! Everyone talks about values like they are some fancy designer label. What do values have to do with an organisation’s business success and impact on the bottom line?

Let me cite a relevant quote from Peter Drucker, one of the most respected Management gurus of our time, “Yes, I’ll do that. But this is the way I should be doing it. This is the way it should be structured. This is the way my relationships should be. These are the kinds of results you should expect from me, and in this time frame,because this is who I am.” (The Essential Drucker, pg.224, Peter F. Drucker, HarperCollins, 2008) Now substitute the words “I” and “me” with “our organisation” and therein lies the source of organisational values.

I offer you some realistic, practical channels for discovering values that are already present in your organisation you might want to make yourself aware of to tap into unused potential, and help you create a value-system to enhance what is already there:

1. Values arise out of what the organisation desires for itselfin business, sustainability, its people, and for a perceived image in the eyes of the external world.

2. Values in an organisation get constructed through behavior and actions of its members, what the top management decides to focus on and decides to ignore, and external factorsincluding competitors, societal culture, legal requirements, and resource availability.

3. For values to remain genuine, they must be reflected in company culture, HR practices, workplace norms, internal and external relationships, strategic business plans, and in a vision that clearly shows where and what the company desires to be.

4. Values in an organisation are based on assumptions made by the top management. These assumptions need to be tested and questioned continuously by top management as they steer the organisational ship.

5. For a value to be considered great, each value must reflect a vision to achieve, a reality-check while executing goals, an ethical standard of behavior, and the courage to act. This is probably the most important definition of “value” which I get from studying the work of Dr. Peter Koestenbaum and his Leadership Diamond Model®.

Everybody understands that the motive for every for-profit organisation at the end of the day is the business of making money. What do these lofty ideals in the name of values have to do with this? You don’t have to look too far, when we have the current financial crisis at our doorsteps. Most of the institutions that created this mess lacked any sense of core values. They operated on a vision but chose to ignore reality, ethics, and their courage to act was based on this faulty vision. They did too much, too soon, without any concept of individual responsibility or consequence. If values don’t drive your organisation, it is impossible to achieve a distinction in the market and stand out in this competitive world, because you would not be standing up for “who you are”.

I have been approached to create a value-system for an organisation in an upcoming assignment, and here’s how I broadly propose to do that:

I. Assessment of the organisation’s future and current strengths, influence of external uncontrollable factors, what the organisation wants to be for its customer and society.

II. The organisation must discover what values are shared between management and employees at all levels.

III. Alignment of management and employee values by creating awareness, acceptance, and link common values to theorganisation’s business strategy.

IV. Embedding of value-system to processes, systems, and workflow so that they are reflected in the organisation’s culture.

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