Many organisations have their ‘espoused’ values on their website. Some even have them on T-shirts, coffee mugs, and mouse pads. This usually involves some sort of ‘roll-out’ process/project.
Values are things like ‘innovation’, ‘diversity’, ‘customer focus’. Some get creative and add clever slogans or phrases “customer-obsessed” or this great example from the Build-a-Bear franchise “Di-bear-sity”.
Espoused versus practice
All too often we see that once espoused values are defined and t-shirts and mugs are printed then ‘doing company values‘ is ticked off the list, written up in the annual report and it’s business-as-usual.
A business-as-usual where practised values do not necessarily align with espoused values.
When asked what the espoused values are leaders may frown, wriggle a bit and perhaps give one or two at best. Yes OK, it is usually us asking, sometimes the uncomfortable questions are needed, sorry.
Does it all matter?
The science points to a resounding YES!
“Research suggests that when employees share organizational values, they feel more loyal, committed, identify more strongly with the organization, and are more likely to stay”*
This quote, like our experience, has a couple of assumptions behind it. First ‘practised values’ need match ‘espoused values’. Second, there needs to be some sort of synergy to employee values.
Don’t panic! You do not need cookie-cutter clones where every individual carries every company value and no others. Understanding personal values can help staff support company values even when they are not a great match.
You do need to proactively consider and involve personal values in any successful values-based culture initiative. We are so bold as to refuse to do values work that does not involve personal values, we won’t waste your precious time or money.
What our clients say about our values work
I had the pleasure of working with Rachel over a two year period while she was leading the delivery of the Values-Driven Learning Organisation project at Refining NZ. Rachel is highly intelligent, passionate and committed – and on top of all that, great fun to be around and work with. Her work on the Values-Driven Learning Organisation project was highly significant in providing our people with the tools, personal motivation and confidence necessary to raise the quality of communications across all levels of the organisation. She is a gifted facilitator, a thoughtful and insightful coach, and a passionate “people person”
*Follow this link if you are after the source of the quote above https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0256090920100302