It’s essential that as a leader your organisational values are completely aligned with your personal ones.
Organisational values are incredibly useful in helping decide whether a particular customer, partner or supplier is right for your enterprise; who to hire and who to part company with; in helping to identify issues and challenges and then in resolving and overcoming them.
Additionally, your organisational values dictate not just how it operates but how it feels and is perceived. Of course, your website, workspace and many other factors are at play, but overwhelmingly it’s the everyday behaviour of everyone in your organisation that speaks loudest – and behaviour is always rooted in values. Whether we’re open, or not; dedicated, or not – these qualities, positive and negative, are obvious and memorable to everyone.
Values shape your organisation’s identity, becoming the core of your brand. They guide decision-making, underpin the way people treat each other, and therefore drive how everyone feels about the enterprise and their part in it. So, agreeing on a clear set of organisational values that match your own and then applying them throughout your organisation is crucial for everyone’s well-being – and for their effectiveness.
But having clearly defined your personal values, how do you ensure the organisation adopts them?
How to embed your values
As a founder, this can be easy. You are the first employee and you can ensure that you don’t employ anyone who doesn’t buy into your values. We will explain how to do this in future blogs where we look at Talent Strategy. If you already have employees you can present your personal values as a framework for adoption and manage the amount of variation you are willing to accept from the team. In all likelihood this will be minimal given you will have hired everyone.
If you’re joining an established organisation, though, things can be more complicated. Its values will already exist, whether or not they’re clearly articulated – and its real values might or might not be consistent with the ones stated in the publicity material.
To resolve this challenge, we suggest working to clarify the understanding of each member of your Board and Senior Leadership Team of the organisation’s values and to get a consensus of how they are (or can be) applied within the enterprise.
If the organisation doesn’t have any agreed organisational values, the best place to start is to share your own and then give both groups – the Board and the Senior Leadership Team – the opportunity to develop them together to the point of unanimous commitment, both of the definition but again crucially of their application through every decision making process.
In both cases it can be useful to bring in external help to facilitate these sessions to allow you the freedom to take part and not get too boxed in defending your corner.