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A sales manager read an article about his
company's refusal to deal with any country where "under the table" money was
part of the negotiation process. He circled the article and wrote the words
Right On! in the column, and mailed it to his CEO. The attached note said: "I'm
proud to work in a company whose values reflect my own."
Values. Every organization has them.
Sometimes they are created with intention and sometimes they are the unhappy
result of poorly chosen decisions and actions. But, whether they are established
deliberately or by accident, values are always present.
Webster defines value as "a principle,
standard or quality considered inherently worthwhile or desirable." The root is
the Latin valor, which means strength. The best values serve as a source of
strength for an enterprise or an individual. And as leadership effectiveness
moves from command and control to collaboration, the key to bonding people to
the goals of the organization automatically becomes the intangibles --
relationships, commitments, and shared values.
Values are never not present. So given that
they are going to be part of the company, regardless, why don't more leaders
create the healthiest possible values?
Because doing so takes an enormous amount of
time, focus and effort.
Values written on a plaque or laminated card
are meaningless. (This is where leaders may start, but it is only a beginning.)
Values must be integrated into processes, policies, and organizational behavior
before they become tangible - a shared understanding of "how we do things around
Achieving this kind of integration takes
much more than the crafting of a values statement. It takes an all-encompassing
strategic campaign. There are six steps to creating such a campaign:
1) Walk before you talk.
When a company wants to highlight any core value - we'll use collaboration as an
example - I recommend holding back all official communication until members of
the senior management team fully understand how their behavior has to change to
be perceived as supportive of knowledge sharing, until there is a system
developed (or at least in the works) for teaching collaborative skills to
employees and a process for educating managers as collaborative coaches, and
until there is an appropriate shift from individual to team accomplishments in
rewards and recognition programs.
2) Tie values to business goals.
All core values need to be connected to strategic objectives. With the value of
diversity, for instance, leaders need to present the business case - explaining
why diversity is not only the right thing to do, but also why it's crucial to
the organization's success. Diversity should be positioned as a positive force
for bringing in new ideas, fresh perspectives, better customer service
(especially as the customer base also becomes more diverse) and more effective
3) Paint a picture of values in action.
People need to see how values actually operate in their day-to-day experience.
If the organizational value is work-life balance, leaders need to identify
specific behaviors that demonstrate this kind of balance. Better still, they
need to find organizational examples where the company's objectives are well
served by a flexible work arrangement - and tell those real-life workplace
4) Develop the corporate mechanisms that
bring values into reality.
3M allows scientists to spend 15 percent of their time working on whatever
interests them, requires divisions to generate 30 percent of their revenues from
new products introduced within the past four years, has an active internal
venture capital fund, and grants prestigious awards for innovations. I don't
know if 3M has a formal "values statement," but I know what they value.
5) Create linkage.
Ultimately, the leader's role is to create linkage between the organization and
its employees. And this goes beyond making sure that everyone knows where the
company is headed, what's expected of them and how their contributions fit into
the overall strategy - although all of those concepts are vitally important.
True linkage, the kind that bonds committed employees to the success of the
organization, comes when there is a deep connection between the values of the
company and those of the work force. As a leader, the most effective way of
developing this powerful connection is to encourage employees to clarify their
own personal values and to see how they fit within the values of the
Define your personal values.
How do you define success in life?
How do you want to be remembered?
Decide what your professional "purpose" is.
What do you want to accomplish in your career?
What are you passionate about achieving?
Describe your ideal working environment.
Under what working conditions are you the happiest and most productive?
Write out the values and principles of the organization.
What attitudes and behaviors does the company value?
What organizational principles would you be fired for violating?
Link your values to the organization.
How do the values of the organization reflect your own values?
How does the company afford you opportunities to live your values?
6) Track your "values alignment."
Leaders who utilize a "Say/Do" survey to periodically monitor employee
perception can make sure that the organization stays on track. Such an inquiry
identifies values that have been integrated into organizational behavior - and
shows where gaps still exist. Typical survey questions are: "This is what our
values state. What actions do you see us taking that are in alignment with our
values? What behaviors are out of alignment?"
These six steps outline an undertaking that
is both difficult and time-consuming. But the payoff is an enterprise with
Cohesive values can turn an organization
into a hologram - in which every part contains enough information in condensed
form to describe the whole. A hologram is a wonderful image for an organization
with strong values. An observer can see the entire organization's culture and
ways of doing business by watching one individual -- whether a production-floor
employee, the receptionist at the front desk, or a senior manager. There is a
consistency and predictability to their behavior that customers, suppliers,
partners, and other employees can count on.
Now that's something to value!
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-11-25 13:36:40 in Employee Articles