STOP bad vibes rising

“Ninety-nine percent of what we say is about values. I firmly believe that ethical capitalism is the best way of changing society for the better.” – Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.

How many times do we see compa-
ny’s values on brass plaque hanging in the reception area?
The mission statement sounds too good to be true. You think to yourself “I like what they say – that sounds really good.” Then you discover company morale is low, staff turnover is high, and there’s no integrity between what management says and does. What promises the earth in terms of quality or service, actually produces mediocrity and disappointment. Why is this?

Values
It’s all about values. The hot topic in management right now centres on values. They’re the raison d’etre. They’re our lifestyle priorities – our wants, desires and preferences. They dictate why we make the decisions we do and they ignite our motivation and determine our levels of loyalty, commitment and energy. What we value is what we choose to put our time and energy into.
Values can be conveyed through emotionally charted words that portray our personal beliefs to others. They indicate desirability of something – its worth, merit or importance. They’re never static or fixed, they change in response to shifts in consciousness and growing awareness. They change over time.
An organisation’s values determine its culture, branding, vision, mission, objectives, strategy and procedures. An individual’s values determine their integrity, work ethic, commitment, passion, motivation, decision making, fulfilment and productivity.
The key is to have synergy between those two value sets. Successful companies identify, and respond to the values of their staff and customers. Companies who don’t, won’t survive, because it’s not the company or the plaque that puts values into action. It’s the people. So what happens to companies who don’t value their staff?

Alignment
If an organisation has set of core values such as ?profit, success, growth, achievement, expansion, globalisation’ then people within that organisation who have similar values will love working there. People whose personal values are at odds with those of the company will find themselves out of alignment.
The table on page 35 lists nine significant areas where there’s mismatch between the values of an organisation and its people.

Bad vibes rising
Where individuals don’t feel valued by their organisation they become dissatisfied, have feelings of obligation rather than motivation, make mistakes, blame others, become stressed, lack attentiveness with others, feel lethargic and feel less likely to offer to do things, impose limitations, resort to deceit and even silently sabotage the organisation.
The organisation senses morale is low. Staff are likely to vote with their feet and leave, so turnover will be high, as will absenteeism, burnout and fatigue. Unaligned company values also mean lower productivity, communication breakdowns, low motivation, lowered accountability and responsibility, performance issues, authoritarian leadership, procrastination and increased customer complaints.
Behind every act
The alignment of individual and company values is the critical key to sustained corporate success.
Behind every business activity and transaction are people making decisions based on their values, giving one high priority and another low priority. Given that alignment is the key to success, it’s essential to establish the extent to which your people are aligned with your company’s values.

Founding values
When an organisation is formed it takes the values of its founders. If these values are societal values, the firm prospers, and the share price rises, as people want to be part of that growth and prosperity.
For example, United States toothpaste manufacturer Thom’s of Maine recognised it wasn’t enough to have good product. The product needed to reflect social and environmental values, so the firm re-oriented itself to make clean, green toothpaste. It also extended its product range into soaps and cleaners that were environmentally friendly. Sales soared into the millions and Thom’s is now leading manufacturer of these products.

Starbucks
A company that recognised its people through employee ownership and participation is Starbucks Coffee Company.
Chairman Howard Schultz speaks of valuing employees and encouraging loyalty to the company: “The two cornerstones of the culture of our company are to treat people with respect and dignity, and manifestation of that was, first creating an environment where everybody was an owner.”
Starbucks designed generous package to attract and encourage dedicated employees, which they called the “Bean Stock” Option Plan. This offered staff share options based on their wages and company profitability. Schultz maintains the benefit package is “the single greatest advantage we have in terms of competitive advantage because of the value and relationship that our people have to the company, to each other, and most importantly to our customers and shareholders”.

Value shifts
Fashions, trends and paradigm shifts occur over time so that the original values don’t match the current values. Organisations that don’t keep up with value shifts face minimal survival or extinction.
The only way to avoid this is to embark on continual programme of recreation. This involves regularly reviewing the founding values, the organisation’s current values and value shifts in society. According to Paul Chippendale, author of New Wisdom II, it is of paramount importance to ensure that what the organisation does and how it does it, is in tune with society’s values.

MTV
Management through values (MTV) ensures an organisation isn’t ignoring value shifts. The expected outcomes of MTV are increased productivity and prosperity because employee motivation increases when staff are able to live their values.
MTV is about seeing new order of things and having the boldness to take risk to translate the new order into reality. It’s an enhancement of strategic management based on the belief that “WE create the future”.

Changing values
A Kiwi firm recognising the importance of MTV is NZ Business Supplies, part of the Blue Star Group. The companies in this group include OTC Workplace Partners, Whitcoulls Office Products, Blue Star Office Products, Holland’s, and General Packaging. The CEO of this group, Steve Phillips, recognised the group wouldn’t survive unless it valued its people.
“Because the group needed to go through significant change, we knew we needed good alignment values between our main stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, community and shareholders. Values are now constant reference point for monitoring vision, strategy, performance, direction, and human well-being throughout our change process. Every employee is provided with the opportunity to explore their own goals and values so they can assess the alignment or otherwise of the organisation’s values with their own,” he says.
Other companies to start addressing their values are Orbis Search, Cogent, U-Bix, Canon, Ericsson Communications, The Otago Daily Times and the Inland Revenue Department.

A world focus
Overseas, the World Bank has appointed an executive to explore the links between values and the bottom line of companies and the health of entire national economies.
In his book Cannibals with Forks, John Elkington says, “Richard Barrett landed the new job of World Bank Values Co-ordinator and is convinced that companies can help themselves if they help employees to find more meaning and vision in their jobs.”

Tracey Schubert is registered psychologist and Australian Values Inventory consultant.

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