By Tom Shenk
Can you imagine the challenge of aligning all people within an organization behind a common set of values?
First, I suppose, it is appropriate to ask the greater question: How significant is the concept of shared values? Well, they inform strategy, hiring, goal-setting, standards, responsibility-level, etc.
Values determine how things get done in your organization.
So: What specific shared value dimensions are important?
The challenge of narrowing down and naming your organization’s values can appear immense, especially from the point-of-view that most of our companies transcend at least 40 years of age difference. Recent graduates have different expectations than corporate veterans.
Is there a direct link to shared values and long-term profitability and viability? There has been enough research on the subject to suggest that a link exists. Certainly there are consequences if the company’s leaders are not singing from the same sheet of music.
So, how well aligned is your company?
Here are just a few questions to trigger your thinking and hopefully your action.
- How are decisions made? And how do you define autonomy, independence, and “freedom to act?”
- How do you define quality, customer service, and what is meant by continuous improvement?
- How do we deal with differing opinions and viewpoints?
- What is meant by working long and hard to achieve results?
- What is your approach to problem-solving? How much trial and error is acceptable?
- Where does fun and light-heartedness start and stop?
- Do we value teamwork? Really?
These are a few questions that will help you define the shared values of your organization.
If you’re unsure where to begin, perhaps we can help?
This article was inspired by the research of Paul McDonald, a senior lecturer in management at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and Jeffrey Gandz, a professor of business administration at the University of Western Ohio.