Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Value of Organizational Values

Recently, we’ve talked about vision and mission statements, so it only seems fitting that we finish this strategy trifecta with a post about organizational values. IMHO, values are the most important of the three.

Values are the qualities that transform a company’s mission and vision into reality. In essence, values outline corporate culture and play an important role in our everyday activities as managers.
  • Recruiting - Values should be the qualities we look for during job interviews. People who demonstrate our organizational values, should be the ones we hire. For example, if having a customer focus is one of your company values, then asking questions about delivering customer service would be key.
  • Training – Every company should include their organizational values in orientation. In fact, they should be reinforced during every company training program. Think about the impact of being able to link company values to leadership.
  • Performance - Performance appraisal systems should include the company’s organizational values. We should reward performance that supports organizational values.
It seems so simple. Your organizational values help you achieve your success. Therefore, you hire for them, train to improve them and recognize/reward based upon them.

But in reality, we see plenty of cases where the values a business says are important aren’t the ones that get emphasized or acknowledged. I wonder if that’s because organizations are conflicted about which values to select.

For example, I know of companies that thrive on an entrepreneurial culture. They are competitive, profit/results driven and have a tremendous sense of urgency. But their values don’t reflect any of these attributes. Why? Because those words may have some negative connotations.

Organizational values are unique to each company. They shouldn’t just be politically correct marketing terms. Let me repeat that – values shouldn’t just be politically correct marketing terms. Values should represent the culture of the business. It’s okay to be competitive and profit driven. In some industries, it’s a necessity.

As you’re starting to plan for next year, think about your organizational values and whether they’re representative of your organization. If they are, that’s great. If they’re not, could it be time for a change?

About the author:

Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP is the HR Bartender, whose award-winning blog is a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. She's also a regular contributor to Mashable, American Express OPEN and a variety of other online publications. When she’s not writing, Sharlyn is president of Internal Talent Management (ITM) Group which specializes in employee training and human resources consulting. Her off-hours are spent searching for the best hamburger on the planet, fabulous wine that cost less than $10 bottle, and iPhone apps.

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