The values debate – Is it just a PR exercise?

It is unusual to walk into any office these days and not see their organisation values displayed in their foyer, on their walls and even on staff desks and identity cards. These symbols are important if they really stand for how the organisation operates and what is valued, recognised and rewarded.

by Trudie Balthazaar

However, too often it appears that the values displayed are disconnected from ‘the way things get done’ within the organisation and so staff feel no connection to the espoused values. At worst, staff become quite cynical about the values espoused versus the real values at play within the organisation.

So how do you ensure that your values are actually lived within organisation and therefore have meaning?

Firstly, I think it relies on the senior leadership team really believing that the organisational culture, and its underpinning values and behaviours, truly impacts on business performance. Too often I’ve seen leadership teams set strategic objectives around culture and engagement and then delegate responsibility for the development and implementation of the culture plans to HR while they get on with the running of the business!

In the last article I identified the cultural levers we aim to align at recoveriescorp in order to create a high performing culture. Our desired culture is informed by our strategic goals and our icare values are embedded in each of these four levers.

From a leadership perspective, we coach our leaders to be able to provide effective feedback around behaviours as well as progress towards performance targets. We have regular discussion forums to ensure leaders don’t turn a blind eye to poor behaviour, either because they think they are more difficult conversations to have and/or staff members might be achieving their targets so they want to keep them on  side. Our 360 degree feedback process for leaders provides them with useful insights about how consistently they are role modelling our values and behaviours.

From a mindset perspective, we run regular sessions for staff on developing proactive mindsets based on an inner locus of control, as we believe this mindset is crucial for self-accountability.

From a systems and process perspective, our values and behaviours are built into our recruitment, induction, performance management, and reward and recognition processes. For example, our values account for 50 per cent of the overall evaluation of performance in our Performance and Development Review (PDR) process and staff are provided with feedback on monthly basis on their progress in relation to both targets and expected behaviour. Our CEO and Managing Director regularly references the icare values in his communication with staff and we have introduced an icare award, where staff can nominate their peers for this award each month. We also spend significant time with new starters discussing our expectations around the icare behaviours.

This October will mark our third year since we last reviewed our values with staff and launched our icare values. We are delighted with the traction of our values since inception, with over 95 per cent of staff identifying in our engagement survey that they were clear about the organisation’s values. 75 per cent of our staff either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that ‘recoveriescorp values are a good match with my personal values’. This year, we will be reviewing the behaviours aligned to each value with staff in order to further enhance their relevance and meaning.

We recently attended a seminar where Ross Dawson spoke about ‘The Future of Work’ and he contended strongly that culture is both a current and future business imperative, that will shape the success of organisations. So I’m sure culture is on your leadership agenda as well as ours.