The four to six words or statements that make up the core values reflect the basic principles that guide our interactions with every stakeholder of the organization. They also establish the boundaries of behavior for all associates of the culture or subculture. Highly effective organizations share a common quality that sustains their success and sets them apart as great places to work: a strong set of deeply imbedded and broadly held core values. They may be few in number but they are powerful in defining the manner in which associates are expected to interact with and treat other stakeholders both inside and outside the organization.
Core values establish the foundation of the culture. Until we decide what those values are, and how we will interact with each other, it’s very difficult to do anything else—whether setting goals, establishing measurements, solving problems or even making decisions—effectively. As such, core values cannot be left to chance and allowed to emerge through unconscious neglect. Core values determine whether people work in an open and trusting environment where opinions are valued, or in an environment that is tainted by suspicion and tension. Our societal values respect open communication Why should we expect anything less from our work environments? Few would say they thrive in an environment where they are criticized for sharing how they feel or are worried whether their personal values are in conflict with those of the people with whom they work. In environments like that, associates walk around as if on eggshells, afraid to say anything.
Positive core values allow us to identify with an organization. They tell us where we stand in relation to the goals of the organization and empower us to ensure the credibility of our organization in the eyes of customers. Values espoused or not, exist in every organization. Often they are historical in nature, based
Until we decide what those values are, and how we will interact with each other, it’s very difficult to do anything else effectively.
Values can vary from one organization to another, even among those in the same enterprise. Individual departments and divisions may even have their own core values. Even so, they have to consistently reflect the core values of the overarching or enterprise culture. Effective core values also provide clear expectations of personal interaction and set boundaries beyond which behavior becomes objectionable.
For example, if a core value is integrity in everything we do, every member of the culture is expected to honorably fulfill all of his or her obligations and commitments to stakeholders of the organization. If another core value is treating every stakeholder with dignity and respect, one might vehemently disagree with an associate’s opinions or actions but is expected to deal with the issue at hand without personally attacking the associate personall.
Without these institutionalized values an organization lacks the ability to reach its full potential in developing its human capital, necessary for optimizing long-term success. Indeed, without consistent application of the organization’s core values, stakeholders do not know what to expect from one day to the next, and so are often emotionally, spiritually and mentally unavailable to assist the organization in reacting and adapting to changing conditions.