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9 Ways to Tell if Your Organisation’s Values are Working

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Organisational values have been described as a ‘Golden thread’ running through every aspect of the organisational fabric. Values are powerful so it is worth taking the time to check that your organisation’s Value statements really capture the essence of your culture. At their best, organisation values are the guiding principles, beliefs, and ideals that define the culture and behaviour of a company. They are a set of standards that guide decision-making, actions, and behaviour within the organisation. When the values are not a good fit, they can be reduced to empty words on a wall.

Here are some things to think about when you are assessing the effectiveness of your organisation’s values

  1. Authenticity – do the Values really describe what is most important in the culture? Are the descriptions grounded in language that is used every day by organisation members?

  2. Depth – Really powerful value statements reflect deeply ingrained beliefs and norms that shape an organisation's identity and character. They say, ‘These are the key beliefs that we signed up to when we committed to working here.’

  3. Reputation – Were stakeholders consulted for their views? When Values are well drawn, they resonate with external stakeholders, customers, suppliers, former employees, peer organisations, etc. If you are looking at your Values, some stakeholder consultation may be helpful.

  4. Simplicity: How many Values does your organisation espouse? Think of Henry Ford’s famous value statement ‘Any colour as long as it's black’. It says so much in so few words.

  5. CTA: are the Values a call to action for organisation members? Do the Values indicate to people what they should do or how they should behave? Often, employees say they really like the Values, but are unclear as to how they can live them.

  6. Visibility: Are the values visible? What is the profile of the values are the displayed visually where all can see them. Are the used in documentation, meetings and other organisation set pieces. Are they spoken of? Is it a given that values are verbalised in leaders’ communications?

  7. Decision Making: This is the true test of organisation Values. Having strong, authentic values means that you may sometimes be faced with decisions that seem counter to the short term interests of the organisation. When Values are robust, they guide decision making, because they define what is always.

  8. Modelling: Are the leaders living the Values? What leaders do sets the tone for everything and everybody. When organisation values are a good fit, leaders don’t have to make a special effort to conform to them.

  9. Integrated: Organisational values need to be integrated into the organisation's culture. At the outset, some thinking is required to think about how the values can be embedded into the systems and practices of the organisation. When values are really working for an organisation, they are inherent in recruitment practices, performance evaluations, and organisation rituals. In this way, values are a rich lifeblood that helps organisation to garner engagement, affinity and commitment from employees and key external stakeholders.

Ready to ensure your organisation's values are truly intertwined with its every fibre, driving authenticity and positive reputation? Contact us today to start a conversation on how we can help you assess, refine and live your values every day. Let’s make your values the true compass of your organisational journey.

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