Committing to a Common Purpose
Managing by values is an approach that helps an organisation’s stakeholders commit to a common purpose, aligning processes with its values. In this article, we examine how organisations execute a ‘managing by values’ approach.
Managing by values to join the ‘Fortunate 500’
In his book Re-Inventing the Corporation, John Naisbitt introduced the concept of the ‘Fortunate 500’. Instead of ranking companies according to their profits – as is the case with the Fortune 500 – the Fortunate 500 ranks them according to their quality of service to customers and quality of life to their employees.
Naisbitt identified four pillars on which Fortunate 500 companies stand – the CEOS:
- Customers – you want customers to become advocates of your organisation
- Employees – making employees feel like your most valuable resource creates a motivating environment
- Owners (or shareholders) – benefitting from profits created by value-driven operations that are respected
- Significant Others – distributors, creditors, vendors and suppliers, even competitors, with whom the organisation builds connection through shared responsibility and mutual trust
Ken Blanchard co-authored the book Managing by Values in which the three elements of managing by values are described as:
- Identification of core values
- Communication of core values
- Alignment of values with business practices
Identification of core values
It is imperative that you identify the core values that define your organisation. Senior leaders should list what they perceive to be key values, and allow their teams to discuss them. This discussion is often aided by having a facilitator present, to encourage open and honest exchange of views and ideas.
The views of the leaders and their teams should be compared, and employees should be involved. Feedback should further help to refine the list of core values, before final checks are made with customers and significant others.
This process will allow an organisation to deliver a definitive set of core values that has support by consensus.
Communication of core values
To communicate core values effectively, the organisation may need external expertise and an effective communication strategy that helps teams and individuals realise how a managing by values approach will provide the guide for decision-making and daily operations.
It is crucial that support for the approach is unswerving, from the top through all levels of management. It is critical that all realise that the organisation’s core values are their values.
Alignment of values with business practices
The organisation should adopt methods to measure the gap between practices and values. Recognised methods include:
- Customer surveys and focus groups
- Assessment and feedback tools
- Employee surveys
It is essential that employees are encouraged to share ideas. If there is no platform to do so, employees will feel that they have no voice. The feeling of consensus will rapidly evaporate, as employees feel that decisions do not include them.
Leaders and managers may need to develop their capabilities when it comes to effective consensus building skills. When employees develop solutions to problems, quick implementation can confirm and builds trust.
Behaviours that align with values should be rewarded consistently and constantly. Do this, and employees will see how the core values that you worked so hard to identify and communicate actually matter.
(To see how putting people in the picture creates a shared vision and helps set a concrete destination, read this case study.)