Welcome to our ‘Assessing your organisational values‘ resource. This is part of our series of free-to-download resources, each tackling a specific challenge in your internal communications strategy.
A toolkit full of resources
This series of resources allows us to share a set of valuable tools and exercises to help you improve your internal communications. We hope you have found them useful so far, and we’ll continue to bring you new resources every couple of weeks. This resource builds on the ‘Determining your values’ exercise. If you haven’t had a go at that one yet, click here for the free download. These two resources go hand-in-hand. We talked then about people who say their organisation doesn’t have a set of values. Well, regardless of whether they are written down or not, every organisation does have them. It is a myth that they don’t exist. All organisations have values, even if they have not formally identified them. Our role as communicators and employee-engagers is often to uncover those values and to communicate them consistently.
Assessing your existing organisational values
Understanding how well your current organisational values fit with your priorities and strategy is an important first step in deciding whether you need to re-visit them. Regular evaluation is an important task and a key step in making sure your published values are relevant and up to date. Assuming that you have already determined your values (all the more reason to have a quick look at the previous resource if you haven’t done so yet), today’s exercise gets you to examine the existing values within your organisation. The whole premise for this is that the values you have identified exist to serve a purpose; to help drive behaviours, and influence problem solving and decision making within your organisation. They should act as a route map for your people, helping them to understand how you want them to behave and, particularly, the type of decisions you want them to make. A set of well-thought-out, clearly-communicated values should ultimately drive behaviour, problem solving and decision making. When faced with a dilemma or a fork in the road, if everyone knows what your values are, they should know which route to take because the values will guide them down that path. Organisational values should also instil a sense of pride, driving loyalty and a willingness to be part of the team.
Start by writing down each of your organisational values. You will then be asked to think objectively about each one and score how well it works for your business. Does it serve a purpose? Think about the connection between your people and your values. Does each one really provide a point of guidance? How well does it build a day-to-day foundation for the way you want your people to behave both inside and outside of work?
A sense of pride
Is each value something that people can be genuinely proud of? When you talk about your financial agility, is that something that really means something to everybody? Does it drive their motivation? Do your values build and sustain pride in your organisation?
Problems, decisions and resources
Do your existing organisational values give clear guidance to help decision making? Do they provide an obvious route forward – or do they offer an obvious way of trading off some of the decisions people have to make at a corporate level? Do they help to identify your priorities at a strategic level and do they help you to decide where to allocate resources?
A quality example
I used to work for a food company, one of whose values was quality. I’m not going to get into the debate around defining quality – that’s probably for another time. In the past, the organisation had had issues where its raw materials had not been of a high enough quality. It was faced with the dilemma of ramping down production and failing orders, or dropping its quality standards to fulfil orders and thereby meet customer demands and sales targets. The decision was made only to complete products that would meet the strict quality standards. This meant failing customer orders and sales targets. It illustrated that we would never ever compromise on quality, even at the expense of some of our other key areas of performance.
Stories like this are often important in terms of articulating values. They illustrate whether a particular value is something that is really integral to your business, and whether it will shape the way you plan and drive the business forward.
Personal reflection or team exercise
So, are you ready to get started? The resource is called ‘Assessing your existing values’ and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is designed to be a personal reflection exercise, something you can work through on your own. However, it works equally well with a team. Get everyone to go through the exercise and then compare what you all come up with. Are you all congruent or is there some misalignment across your organisation? Hopefully, it will help you to work out how useful and productive your existing values are in terms of driving your business forward – and whether you need to re-evaluate and re-determine.
Building up your toolkit
We will continue to build on this theme of values with our next shared resource. We started with ‘Bringing meaning to work’, followed by ‘Determining your values’. The series will continue to build into a valuable toolkit, addressing your internal communications issues. All resources can be downloaded for free here. If you have any feedback on these resources, please let us know or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are specific resources you would like us to develop, linked to the work we do around vision, values and helping organisations to articulate more clearly, we would love to hear from you.