What Organizational Values Really Mean

When you think of organizational values, what comes to mind?   Some of the most popular ones include “Integrity,” “Respect,” “Innovative,” “Genuine,” “Honesty” and so on.  But what do these values really mean?

We tend to ask this question a lot, when working with organizations.  Even among leadership teams, the definition and actions associated with organizational values are, oftentimes, different.  “Respect” for one person may mean replying to all their emails, even if it’s just to say “Thank you” or “Got it”. To another, actively listening and contributing to a meeting is respect.  This can result in misunderstandings and unnecessary problems within an organization. Because of this, it is essential that leaders come together to define organizational values and set expectations around how these values are lived out.  

An example of this is an organization we worked with, who had “harmony” as one of their values.  It was important that employees got along and were kind to one another. As a result of this, employees felt that they had to get along and that there couldn’t be conflict.  If there was conflict, it meant they weren’t living out their organizational values.  Over a period of time, problems weren’t being addressed, people were gossiping behind one another’s backs and employees felt as if they couldn’t be honest with each other.  So, instead of having a harmonious environment, people were actually hurt, disconnected and didn’t have a way to truly resolve problems.

After working with the team, they finally began to understand how the value of “Harmony” was not being lived out and started to look about how they could shift things, in order to create the environment they wanted.  A big part of accomplishing this meant finding a way to effectively raise and resolve problems with one another. If the organization wasn’t bringing up issues, then what existed was a sense of false harmony, and that’s not what they wanted.

As a result, people in the organization began looking at how they could effectively raise issues with each other.  They decided that any issues needed to be raised and resolved within 24 hours. Over a period of time, as the organization practiced this, the value of “Harmony” was lived out in a real way.  Problems were no longer seen as taboo and people were able to start to truly connect with each other and with the organization.    

By understanding the true values of the organization and getting employee buy-in, you create a sense of consistency and a sense of security.  This lays a foundation for how people can come together to resolve issues with one another in an effective way, how they can create accountability and how to foster a positive workplace environment.  Organizational values are essential for the success of any organization. Taking the time to understand it and build a strong foundation to support these values will transform your business for the better.

If your business needs help aligning and implementing your organizational values, reach out to The Utech Group. We have over 25 years of experience working with organizations through business transitions, culture strategy and implementation, leadership development and team development. Our team looks forward to helping with you.