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Shared Values

Choosing the values of an organisation, should be done after the creation of the vision and mission. To the extent possible, all employees should be involved in this discussion.

Carrying out a cultural values assessment at this point in time is an effective way of identifying the values employees feel are important for guiding the organisation in achieving its vision and mission. It is important to involve the employees because they know what is necessary to create a high performance environment for their work.

The values chosen for the organisation should:

  • Be single words or small phrases so they are memorable
  • Support the vision and mission of the organisation
  • Not more than five in number
  • Normally be spread over several levels of consciousness
  • Include relationship values as well as organisational values

Sometimes organisations have two sets of values—core values that are absolutely non-negotiable, and operating values.

I first came across this idea when working with a company that ran several nuclear power stations. Their core values were non-negotiable: employee safety, environmental protection, and profitability. These are values that occur at the survival level. Their operating values included employee recognition, excellence, continuous improve-ment and commitment. These values are spread across levels 2 to 5 of the seven levels of consciousness model.

The degree to which the shared values are lived is a demonstration of the integrity of the organisation. It is possible to measure the integrity of an organisation—its degree of alignment with its values—by carrying out an Espoused Values Analysis.  Table 20.4 shows an example of such an analysis. (Click on table to enlarge)

 Espoused Values Analysis

This espoused values analysis carried out for an important regional bank shows that every one of the values except “achievement” is considered to be of growing importance by employees. The percentage of votes for these values in the desired culture is higher than current culture.

We also see that integrity has the biggest jump in votes. Employees want the organisation to display significantly more integrity—more alignment to its values.

 

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