Every organisation has values. The challenge, however, is that these are usually different from those written on the poster. To cite an infamous example, Enron's espoused values were communication, respect, excellence and, you guessed it, integrity.
The gap between espoused values and how people actually behave in organisations is largely a function of five factors:
- We judge ourselves by our noble intentions, but we judge everyone else by their actions. I may consider myself high on integrity because it is part of how I see myself, but if I don't deliver on my commitments to you, you can justifiably claim that I lack integrity.
- Values are a 'how to' not a 'where to'. When you say "this is our vision and these are our values" you position them as an aspiration. You might as well say "I hope we have integrity one day."
- Our values are sometimes in conflict with our aspirations. We may value consistency, but if our vision is to be the most innovative company in our industry, then we have misalignment.
- Living by stated values requires courage; it's usually easier to go with the flow than to be clear and unapologetic about what you stand for.
- We all have different rules that determine how we experience a particular value. Usually, these rules are unconscious and/or unspoken. In order to experience the value of respect, I may have ten things that need to happen in perfect synchronicity, while you may experience respect if team members speak politely to one another.
This was originally posted on PeterFuda.com