Some organisations clearly align to vales that are espoused and championed by their leaders but are not to be found in a list on the website. For others somewhere in a bundle of papers high on a shelf or filed in a long forgotten folder lies the work of management development groups, HR colleagues, the Exec and others who sought to agree what is now published as THE list of corporate values.
Whether your organisational activities are played out by a cast of thousands, hundreds or less the truth is that the personal values of each of your colleagues just do not and cannot align fully with all of those of the business. What’s more there is a good chance that the majority of your ‘cast’ will not have spent much time contemplating the potential conflicts between their own vales and those of the organisation or, more importantly, considered how to reconcile those conflicts in moments of pressure when they occur.
Nowhere is this more important in the management of the business; for the leadership team when strategic policies are formed, and with operational management who take day to day decisions that affect customers, colleagues, stakeholders and the environment.
Just say that you and I are running our new luxury cruise liner company and amongst our values are those of Keeping the Customer First; Shareholder Value, Equality and Respect, and the Environment. When the decision on what fuel to burn during long voyages across oceans where no pollution regulations exist do we either; sacrifice our environmental commitments in favour of low cost fuel to keep prices down for customers and margins up to pay shareholders? Or do we stick to costly, cleaner diesel for the sake of the oceans and the ozone layer? The answer is likely to be the former.
So does this mean that the carefully drafted list of values is just there for show? Like stage makeup covering the flaws that would otherwise portray a somewhat different character? If the published values does just form a benign list that plays no part in strategic and operational decision making; then the answer is yes. If, however, all strategic decisions are weighed against the Values in the same way as, or as part of, the Equality Impact Assessment process, if that is in place, then the answer is likely to be a qualified ‘No’. And why only a qualified ‘No’? Because all the day to day management decisions must also be predicated on the values. And if managers and team leaders are not exposed to management training and development that enables them to practice decision making referenced to the organisational and their own personal values, and with consideration on how to resolve conflicts, then much of what goes on may not be values-aligned. That being the case the published vales will clearly only be like stage makeup masking how in truth the organisation operates.
For those organisations that do not yet publish their values, the worth of a values-driven management development programme cannot be underestimated to bring clarity and confidence at all decision making levels.