I wrote a blog back in 2011 about whether I think organisations can even have values and share it again here.
Values are what drive all our behaviours. What values aren’t - are things we decide or even choose to have ie they’re not conscious they’re unconscious. See last week's blog for more on personal values.
The challenge is can we translate personal values into business values? I know many organisations have published values statements but I wonder can we really suggest the current values statements used by most organisations are the same or even similar to our personal and unconscious values? And therefore should we be even calling them such? I’d suggest not - for a number of reasons:
- When eliciting personal values we start with an individual’s behaviour to understand the value(s) driving that behaviour. Business values seem to work the other way round and simply become aspirational choices rather than something that reflects or explains current actions.
- Personal values cover ALL our actions. Many business values seem to concentrate on the ‘softer’ aspirational values and forget about the ‘harder’ values that would inform for example the strategic direction, profitability or pricing choices made.
- Even if people have the same core value, what behaviours they judge to be acceptable or unacceptable will differ greatly. Why else, for example, are there numerous linkedin group discussions exploring what integrity or honesty mean. Business values statements are therefore useless without a statement of behaviour to identify what the values looks like for that organisation.
- Because they’re our personal values it’s automatic for us to behave in ways that support them. Unless our values are aligned with an organisation’s it’s likely we may find taking on its values and associated behaviours difficult. If they’re in conflict with our own even more so. I certainly don’t see much evidence of values based alignment in interviews or restructuring when new or updated values statements are published.
- Making any changes to our personal values and/or their hierarchy (ie their relationship to each other) is not easy. Yet many organisations’ management teams seem to issue a new and improved values statement every few years and assume it’ll work.
The Purchasing Coach
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