Four essential things to consider when establishing organisational values

Establishing Organisational Values

Scott Howe

By: Scott Howe – September 2015

Values in a business change due to a number of things: succession of CEO/MD, the market, economic wealth, or brand expansion to name but a few. The unfortunate consequence of this values shift is ‘change’. The word ‘change’ places more fear in the employee group than most others…except, of course, “you’re fired!”.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

So how could this fear be better omitted?

What I see very often in businesses are values that have been created by the CEO/MD or the senior person in charge. Often they have set out to create something that the staff will believe in, but the process they have used in the creation is flawed. They have made them in isolation and have formed them around their personal beliefs.

But what if the business had its own set of values? What if the boards of directors and recruiters searched for people to assume roles that already shared the values of the business itself? No longer would there be periods of change that always lead to reduced company output and lost revenue following the appointment of a new CEO.

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Part of what I do is develop values of businesses/organisations through a collaborative process involving more than just the current incumbent of CEO/MD corner office, as CEO’s and MD’s will come and go through the lifecycle of any business. With a change at the top often brings with it periods of change and realignment for their employees that disrupt, and can potentially destroy companies.

A ‘Right Management’ survey noted the following:

only 25% of respondents to a recent poll agreed that their workforce effectively responds to change. In contrast, 31% reported their workforce was not able to adapt to change, putting productivity and engagement at serious risk. Forty-four per cent reported that their workforce was coping with change, but that morale was suffering.”

So why adversely affect an organisation? When I served in the British Commandos we all, from the Commandant General (CEO) down to the Marine, were engendered to live by the organisation’s values. The recruitment process to join was thorough seeing only 1% of us being asked to join. This meant that those of us lucky enough to be invited to start training had already been ‘sifted’ to ensure we had, or could have, values that closely aligned to that of the Commandos.

These values were the cornerstone of the organisation. This meant that even when the Commandant General was succeeded, the new General couldn’t destabilise the Commandos by enforcing his own values. This ensured our professionalism and output was left unaffected.

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These values also ran very deeply in the lifeblood of the organisation. They were so fundamental to our shared success that if another commando, regardless of rank, was caught displaying behaviour not aligned to these values they were promptly reminded to do so. A Marine (the lowest rank in the Royal Marines) could, without fear of reprisal or reprimand, tell the Commandant General (CEO) that he needed to realign his behaviour as he was letting himself and the organisation down. The Commandant would smile in agreement knowing that the organisation is in shared safe hands and not just his own.

So, here are four things your business should consider when deciding their values:

  1. Are they transferable? They should work in any business/line of work.
  2. Are you and your employees committed to them? Would you fire those not displaying them?
  3. Get input from staff. They have to live by/share them too.
  4. If you no longer had to work in the organisation would you still live/work by them elsewhere?

About the Author:

Since completing an 18 year career in Britain’s elite Royal Marines Commandos, Scott Howe has firmly established himself as one of Australia’s leading authorities on leadership and business transformation. A highly experienced business strategist who ‘operationalises’ business plans, he has extensive understanding of managing and delivering major transformation programs in both private and public sectors. In additional to these highly successful programs (including the unique ‘Commando Experience‘), Scott is a ‘C Suite’ mentor who appraises, counsels and rationalises ideas to realise business goals.

For more information on the solutions Scott provides and engaging his services, please contact enquiries@rhodesgroup.com.au or call 1300 746 287.

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