A Value Proposition
Recently I’ve been having some conversations with team members and other interested parties about “corporate values” – what they are, how we define them, how we live them, and how we ensure workplace behaviors/actions are in alignment with corporate values. I find it fascinating to take a look at workplace culture from this angle.
A workplace, obviously, is filled with a variety of people – all of whom bring their individual values into the mix. Being an ever evolving and changing organism, that workplace “mix” changes as people come and go. New members inevitably join the team and when they do there’s quite possibly a new set of values entering the group. (Of course, interviewing for alignment with values is a key component, but that’s for another post).
Sadly, sometimes the espoused corporate values are fluff, double-talk, or nonsense pulled together by a handful of executives, a marketing team or consultants. I recall, quite a few years ago, sitting in a building lobby waiting for a scheduled appointment and glancing at a glossy brochure that proclaimed corporate values of compassion and communication and caring. And then being treated rudely and inconsiderately by every glum-faced employee with whom I came in contact.
The most obvious challenge for the organization is to have corporate values that are real and meaningful and TRUE. Don’t tell me your #1 value is integrity right after a few of your top execs are splashed across the headlines for shady business-dealing. And if you tell me “We’re all about TRUST” and then your standard practices include commanding, controlling and hovering over every employee action…well, it may be time to take a look in the nearest dictionary.
It’s critical, of course, as a job-seeker or employee to think, long and hard, about personal beliefs and values before joining up with an organization. Completing a personal values inventory is important – do you know what’s important to YOU? What are the standards and principles that drive you or influence you to take action? Sure, when you need-a-job, sometimes you think most any job will do. But when I was recruiting for jobs in the Casino industry (previous gig), I didn’t get a lot of job applicants who used to work for Jimmy Swaggert (literally down the road). Probably a good thing that applicants did a personal inventory and self-selected themselves “out” of any piece of the process. (No jokes needed about Jimmy Swaggert Ministries and the mis-alignment of values).
Ultimately, when corporate values are real and meaningful and employees are aligned with those values – it will show. Actions and behaviors will clearly demonstrate the reality of day-to-day activities and operating principles.
I enjoy an intriguing exercise such as this. The opportunity to discover something new; explore and solve a big question. Perhaps a personal value on MY list.