Skip to Content

STRATEGY: How Strong Shared Values Will Transform the 2013 Organization

Deborah-Mackin-2013-NewDirectionsLast month I was working with a great management team in a small plant that is part of a larger Fortune 500 business.  We were exploring how to re-energize a teaming initiative that had started years before, but took a pause after some staffing changes had occurred.  I had interviewed a number of employees about the environment and learned that while there had been plant values at one point, “they had been taken down off the walls for some reason.” An Interesting comment that I shared with the current management team.  They looked at each other and said, “Well, we have corporate values, but you know, they aren’t even posted for employees.  Our values really aren’t anywhere.”

Why are organizational values so important and why should we take the time to ensure they are in place and reviewed each year?  We hear a lot of organizations talk about the need to experience a culture change – perhaps in quality, efficiency or customer service.  What we don’t always acknowledge or understand is that an organization’s culture comes from the “underlying values, beliefs and principles that serve as the foundation for the organization’s management systems.”   Values play a critical role in our everyday activities as leaders.  Let’s explore this in more detail.

Let’s imagine that our organization has the following core values:  innovation, service, teamwork, courage and excellence.  As we begin the year 2013, here are some questions, as leaders, we might want to address with our employees around these values:

Our Value

2013 Critical Values Questions


1. How do we support innovation in our daily behaviors and decision-making?

2. Have we explored innovative strategies used by other organizations that might be worth examining?

3. What is a “pioneer” innovation that seems outlandish, but might create a breakthrough for us?

4. Are we encouraging and listening to innovative ideas in our own midst?

5. How important is this value to you personally?


1. What is our service philosophy as we complete our daily tasks and interactions and interact with our customers, community and suppliers?

2. Does our service platform differ based on whether we like or dislike our customer?  If so, how do we correct this?

3. How much variation is there in our service approach, based on individual preference?  Do we have service standards and do we audit them regularly?

4. How important is this value to you personally?


1. How do we work to build common goals and approaches to our work?

2. Do we use our complementary skills to our greatest advantage?  Are some hiding skills that would help enormously if we gave them permission to use the skills?

3. How do we hold each other accountable, rather than expecting someone else to fix our problems?

4. How do we demonstrate that we really care about each other and enjoy connecting and sharing our goals and aspirations?

5.  How important is this value to you personally?


1. Have we defined what it means to be courageous in our jobs and within our organization?

2. What occasions are we likely to see in 2013 that will require us to be courageous?

3. If someone is courageous, how do we come along side to say “me, too” and support a minority position?

4. How are we courageous in our initiating, planning, executing, closing and controlling processes?5.  How important is this value to you personally?


1. What does excellence look like in our processes:  hiring, orienting, onboarding new employees, providing performance feedback, etc.?

2. Would others describe our leadership as a model of excellence?

3. When we compromise to get tasks completed, do we also compromise our commitment to excellence?

4. How important is this value to you personally?


shared-values-imageA study by the Academy of Management Journal found that people whose values were most consistent with the culture of their organization had job satisfaction, greater commitment to the organization and were less likely to leave the organization after two years.  Those people whose values were consistent with their employer also received better performance ratings, performed their jobs better and were more likely to help others with their jobs or tasks as well.  However, in a recent Deloitte “Core Values and Beliefs” survey, factors that executives considered important – financial performance, competitiveness and business strategy – did not match up with employee values.  Employees valued regular communication, access to management and leadership and demonstrating core values and beliefs as their highest priorities.

Values shape the behavior of people in our organizations.  They act as a compass pointing us toward the right choice.  They are the source of all distinctiveness and must be maintained at all cost.

Look around your organization:  can you see the values?  Have they been discussed lately?  Do you know which behaviors you plan to demonstrate in 2013 that will be direct reflections of these values?  As a leader, have you set aside time to talk with your employees about the values, to share what is most meaningful to each of you?

For an extensive approach to incorporating values in your professional and personal life as a driver of behavior we encourage you to pick up Bury My Heart at Conference Room B by Stan Slap.

Best wishes to you and your organizations in 2013 from all of us at New Directions.

No Responses to “STRATEGY: How Strong Shared Values Will Transform the 2013 Organization” Leave a reply ›

Leave a Reply

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Who We Are

An innovative training and employee development firm located in southern Vermont since 1984, we specialize in helping organizations get the most out of their people by raising the bar, inspiring potential and partnering with organizations to build a people-centered, high-engagement culture.

Our Twitter Feed