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Bringing values to life (behavioural charter)

Some organisations spend a lot of time and money creating company values. You only have to type in a few key words and you’ll find a plethora of blogs and articles on the subject. However, I believe people have values, not businesses. So how do we get people to buy into the ideals of a company or organisation? 

In his article, Aligning Action and Values, Jim Collins believes that organisational values cannot be ‘set’. You can discover them. “People must be predisposed to holding them”. He talks about some of the lasting organisations like Hewlett-Packard, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson. “They usually began with a set of strong personal core values and a relentless drive for progress….but what really set them apart was the ability of leadership over the years to create mechanisms that bring these principles to life and translate them into action”. 

So first of all, it’s important to create a healthy culture by working together with employees to establish the key values that align with their beliefs. People won’t buy into a set of values if they don’t personally relate to them or believe they are important. Clear communication and collaboration is key. And the ability to impart those clearly defined values needs to come from the top down. Leaders of the organisation must act on this – define the company values and live them, representing the expected behaviour of employees.

Talking of behaviour, instead of a list of formal statements to adhere to, how about creating a behavioural charter that can be used by everyone to measure if they and their colleagues are living up to their values every single day? Surely a good test of whether values are congruent between people lies in what we observe every day in their interaction? (And not whether they can recite a list of ideals from the company handbook).

By 2025, Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. So what do they think about values?  In a study of 1,000 college educated men and women born since 1980, Bentley University’s Center for Women & Business in Massachusetts discovered that as Millennials enter the workplace, they are more motivated by personal values and aspirations than career advancement: “Family and personal authenticity are key aspects of this group’s identity. Seventy-six percent (76%) of the women and 73 percent of the men see themselves as authentic. They are not willing to compromise their family and personal values”.

An article by Forbes looks at the issue of retaining and developing top talent and, after interviewing employees at various organisations, one of their key findings was: “More than 50% (of employees) say they have different values than their employer”.

Does this sound familiar? How do you engage with and bring to life your organisation’s values? We’d love to hear your comments. Please share them below.

Posted on Thu, March 26, 2015 in General Organisational Development
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