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Organisational Values - Do They Really Mean Anything?

Organisational values are the principles or core ethics a company or organisation uses to drive their actions and inspire desired behaviours in their employees and pupils. They are not strategies used to achieve results, nor a description of the work, but instead guide the behaviours and attitudes the organisation deems important when making decisions.

Getting the values right is crucial, because the collective behaviours and values of all stakeholders becomes the organisational culture, and can be the difference between a toxic work culture and a supportive one.

But, like when identifying your personal values, it's more than just choosing a bunch of inspiring words. They have to mean something to you as an organisation, and importantly, they have to mean something to your team. This will allow people to embrace and embody your organisational values and inspire others to do the same.

Research tells us that when there is a disconnect between organisational values and employee values, productivity and workplace satisfaction is low. When these values are shared however, they can give people focus and a greater sense of purpose and engagement, allowing the values to feed into every day actions and decisions and improve communication. Furthermore, they create a greater level of security for employees, as your values provide a kind of 'code of conduct' for staff.

Unfortunately, more needs to be done than just sharing the values. Many organisations rely on implicit understanding that everyone knows what the values are and acts accordingly. But unless values are being clearly defined and communicated regularly, people may not even think about them in their daily work. Or worse, they may interpret them differently and this could lead to mistakes and conflicting behaviours.

When choosing your organisation values, keep it simple. No one can remember a long string of values. Educational organisations and schools are often guilty of this; having seven or more values which actually dilutes the impact and makes it difficult for staff, pupils and other stakeholders to embody them all.

Instead, I would recommend just choosing three or four values. Of course you want to make it clear that you are making good decisions and value all positive aspects of character and behaviour, but if you had to pick just three, what would you choose? And when I say 'you' obviously I mean all interested parties, including pupils, parents and governors if you are a school.

Once you have streamlined your values, you need to communicate and share them everywhere. You need to refer to them in all your communications, in your performance reviews and interviews, and for schools, in your lessons and assemblies.

They should be discussed and referred to daily to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of their importance and strive to embody the values day-to-day.

This is especially important in schools, where strong, clear values can be used to help drive pro-social behaviours and more importantly improve staff and pupil wellbeing.

I guess the starting point is asking yourself whether you can remember all your organisations values. Or when was the last time someone referred to them explicitly, or in relation to you or your organisations performance?

If you're sitting there going 'ummmm', maybe it's time to refresh them and make them work for you.

To find out how I can help your school or organisation create a positive, resilient work culture with clear, well communicated values, visit my website or get in touch. There's never been a more important time to get organisational values and culture right.


If you're interested in exploring your personal values, download my free coaching guide to Identifying Your Core Values in 3 Easy Steps. The printable workbook also includes a list of 240 values to help you get started! Just click here.


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