Just as personal values are the guiding beliefs or principles which give purpose and direction to our lives, organizational values influence how business gets carried out by its workers, especially its leaders.
Examples of Organizational Values
Organizational values can be spelled out in writing, clearly communicated, and interwoven into all aspects of how an organization functions. For example, if an organization expressly values innovation, this value would likely affect the selection of new employees, the product manufacturing/development process, the product distribution system, and the budget allocation for technology.
In other cases, organizational values are not clearly stated although most employees have an understanding of what is valued by the organization. For example, there are often unspoken values regarding how employees dress, the extent to which employees put in overtime, and the degree of tolerance for employees operating outside normal procedures to accomplish their work or get attention for their ideas.
The Organizational Values Grid
Organizational values can be clear or unclear, spoken or unspoken. If you plotted this in a grid, you would have four quadrants:
Obviously, most organizations’ values cannot be classified as falling cleanly into one category. This is because organizations are collections of people and there will be individual differences in how people operate. In addition, very large organizations often have divisions, lines of business, or operating units which function as separate organizations. The most desirable way for an organization to function, however, is to be working towards clear and spoken values.
Organizations which are quality-oriented recognize this and constantly work toward integrating these articulated values into their mission/vision statements which, in turn, become integrated into how they operate.
What Happens to Organizational Values Over Time
It is also important to remember that organizational values change over time. Like individuals, organizations exist in a larger environment that is constantly changing. For this reason, organizations need to review their values periodically.
You may recognize some similarities between the description of organizational values and personal values. You may also recognize some similarities between how organizations operate and how families or other groups operate. That is because they are all systems of people and many of the same principles apply.
Do you know your organizational values? A Highlands Talent Development Workshop could lead the way. Contact us to learn more.