4 of-values

Values are the system of beliefs and behaviors held in common within and across a group of people. They are the foundation of an organizational structure. Organizations must carefully consider the Values and behaviors they wish to reflect or aspire to in achieving their business outcomes.

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CX Research


Organizational Architecture

Values and associated beliefs ultimately influence the speed and impact that is made in the marketplace by an organization by influencing individual responses to contextual business conditions.

From that level of individual influence, shared assumptions are then forged in groups. It is these shared assumptions that direct behaviors which either support or frustrate specific, desired business outcomes.

Core Values are those that an organization deems as non-negotiable. They may include societal attributes such as trust, honesty, fairness, ethicality, responsiveness, and truthfulness or they may include operational attributes such as quality, transparency, communicability, fiscal responsibility, innovation, safety, and leadership. Aspirational Values are those attributes that are strived for but difficult to obtain. They may include the very same societal and operational attributes just mentioned. Aspirational values are what the organizations wants to embrace in the future and they prove tricky as they carry less personal influence than core Values; what people aspire to be may have little to do with who they really are!

The central requirements surrounding a declaration of Values:

  • Behavior modeling – An organization must reflect the Values they espouse in visually identifiable behaviors. If candor and honesty are core or aspirational values, then leadership must model those behaviors consistently.
  • Aligned rewards – Behaviors that are not rewarded are behaviors that soon disappear. While most core Values arise from the personal integrity of individuals and are intrinsic in nature, acknowledging and rewarding those behaviors are instrumental in fostering the growth and expansion of them. Organizations that support positive behaviors with meaningful (and timely) rewards are well on their way to solidifying their Value statements; an effort that will enable individuals to make positive and effective business decisions.
  • Realistic reflections – People will always reconcile the differences between actual behavior and expected behavior by creating a context that reflects what worked for them in the past. They merge past experience outcomes with some imagined version of what’s expected of them in the future. The further that future state is from behavioral reality, and the less behavior modeling they have to inform that mental image, the less likely they are to achieve the intended Value outcome. Make certain that core and aspirational Values are within your organizational makeup; you’ve behaved to model it, you’re strategically hired for it, and all of those attributes are now believable, achievable, and repeatable.

Values are the basis for the Mission, which is in turn the launch point for the Vision. Modeled and rewarded behavior is the key to outward, continued success.

Common Pitfalls

Values statements are easily overlooked, undervalued, and generally resigned to the Marketing realm. When businesses face pressures and make short-term value decisions, ethics and intent can easily fall by the wayside in the quest for meeting those immediate financial goals.

As an organization, you should ensure that your Values are robust enough to enable your employees to make the “right” decisions that support the integrity of your business.

Warning signs of ineffective Values within an organization:

  • Low levels of trust and communication - As truth becomes increasingly relative across the organization, individuals will begin to trust themselves more and others, less. The result is poor communication with increased reliance on assumptions (no longer “management by fact”), pointing to a systemic problem that begins with the lack of demonstrated core desired behaviors.
  • Increases in HR remediation – An increase in Human Resource issue remediation efforts can be traced to a fundamental disconnect between what is behaviorally expected from individuals and what is actually transpiring. Stay ahead of problems by ensuring that expectations are clear, behavior is modeled and rewarded, and that there is little room for speculation. Individuals that do not/can not, align their core Values with those of the organization are culturally deprecated pretty quickly.
  • Declining job satisfaction and commitment – An organization that exhibits low levels of engagement and low levels of commitment to the organization are the end result of a weak and ineffective strategic foundation. Generally, people want to do good work and want to find meaning and fulfillment in what they do. When organizational direction becomes unclear, conflicted, contradictory, or bereft of a degree of novelty and value, the result is evident in reduced personal investment. The heart and soul of the organization begins to fade, and at this point the evidence may appear that “people just don’t care”.