Research by the Institute of Leadership and Management suggests that out of a list of top ten values identified by employees – only 3 were also values used by the organisation.
Employees’ personal values tended to focus on “making a difference”, “doing the right thing” and “being honest” whereas organisational values often veered to “outcome” orientated values such as “being accountable”.
The misalignment is something organisations should be concerned about – particularly in terms of attracting talent into the organisation. New generations coming into the workforce are far more likely to look for a culture that matches their own values and make this a key part of their decision-making.
And a misalignment for current staff will create cynicism – a sense that the values hold no real meaning for them. So rather than creating engagement and building trust, the values are likely to feel empty and where they are built into processes such as appraisals and reviews, staff are likely to just “go through the motions”.
So, how do organisations prevent this mismatch?
There are 3 steps which will make the world of difference
- Give people an opportunity to input their views and thoughts when identifying a set of values – rather than impose them. Focus groups drawn from across the organisation can help to identify the right ones.
You can do the same to review a set of Values and to check whether any need to change with our evolving workplaces.
- Help people to think about what those values look like on a day-to-day basis for them. Get teams together and ask them.
- what these values mean to them
- how they demonstrate them in their roles
This should be done at every level – starting with the senior leadership team. What does acting with integrity look like for them for example?
Articulating these specific examples will help to bring the values to life and give them meaning.
- Make sure the values are used and referred to. Talk about examples of where they have been demonstrated in one to ones and team meetings. Build them into your recruitment process. And make sure your top-level managers are visibly role-modeling them.
There is then far more chance that values will help create the workplace you want and not remain stuck as an empty set of words on the website!