Time to Reconsider Your Organization's Values

It’s Time to Reconsider Your Organization’s Values

A purpose, vision, and values are essential components of every successful culture. Its mission is the organization’s unmistakable reason for being. Its desire for itself is its vision. And its values (or virtues) are a declaration of how a firm performs what it does and the principles it will continuously follow. These, on the other hand, are never designed to be static. The environment in which a business operates changes, and the firm must adjust.

As you consider what may become the “new normal,” it’s time for businesses to rethink their values. With Covid, the world has changed, and it’s virtually clear that your former goal, vision, and values don’t properly reflect the current situation. There is a growing emphasis on mental and physical health, flexibility, diversity and equality, and other related issues. Your consumers have most likely completely transformed their lives or enterprises, forcing them to reconsider what they want or need from you. And, either because they are new (because of high turnover) or because they are reinventing themselves, the individuals in your company are likely more focused on purpose but less engaged with what you stand for.

The goal, vision, and values of a company and the process through which they are formed must be owned by the business’s leadership team, from the CEO down. However, as I point out in the HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose, everyone in a company has a role to play, whether it’s defining the bigger corporate process, personal activities, or the culture of their teams. As a result, the organization must own and embody these statements.

The process is usually kicked off by the organization’s leadership team (including the CEO) asking a series of simple questions:

  • Mission: What is the overarching goal of our collaborative efforts? Why are we here, and what do we do? This is the north star around which civilizations are constructed, the singular reason each individual can point to why they operate in society.
  • Goals: What do we want to accomplish as a group? I like statements to be both ambitious and practical. They define a strong, long-term goal that the organization can really attain (rather than so bold as to be outlandish or unreachable). This is the most main part of your trip together and how you’ll know whether you’re making progress.
  • Values: What are the guiding principles for operating together as a team and for our clients? Values are an organization’s moral code — the set of rules you all accept and follow to reflect the ethics of the individuals who work there and hold everyone responsible to the highest level of conduct.
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In addition, it’s critical to question “what’s changed” in each area over the previous two years since this may provide valuable insights into the firm’s underlying adjustments in culture and emphasis. What is out of date and has to be discarded? What’s fresh and should be embraced?

As a general rule, the best responses to these questions should be straightforward, memorable, and genuine. The mission and vision statements should each be one phrase long and simple enough for people to remember. They don’t have to be unique, but they should be genuine and different enough that you can use them to keep each other responsible. Values should be one word or a short phrase that is unique, significant, and memorable. They do not have to be fully creative.

With these questions in hand, company leadership teams should devise a method to ask these questions in the community and then incorporate the responses into the culture. “Every stone block contains a statue., and it is the responsibility of the sculptor to uncover it,” the great artist Michelangelo once wrote. The same mission, vision, and values apply. They’re already there in your workplace and among your employees. An organization’s and its leaders’ role is to chisel, shape, and improve what is already there, not imposing things like a blank canvas.

Here are some pointers on how to keep your staff engaged when you ask the questions listed above and then share the responses with the whole company:

Completely engage the organization.

Inform everyone in the company that you’re planning a refresh of the purpose, vision, and values, focusing on the changes of the previous two years. Make the process official and open to the public, and think of it as a pleasant method for everyone to reconnect with the company’s mission and values or assist new employees to feel more at home. This may be a terrific method to reconnect coworkers to the business and one another, especially in hybrid or remote contexts.

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Listen attentively and honestly.

Engage a large number of people directly with top executives. Some of this may be accomplished via technology, such as leader films distributed to all workers, polls, and online platforms where employees can contribute suggestions. However, a significant portion of it should be genuine face-to-face interaction. From the CEO on down, senior executives should personally conduct a variety of focus groups throughout the business, either in person or by video, to engage with a varied set of individuals and hear their input firsthand. Leaders should foster a culture of responsiveness to comments on mission, vision, and values that will outlive the formal exercise throughout this process of developing business purpose. Emphasize positive employee feedback. It should be rewarded. Also, build a leadership team that graciously listens.

The new statements should be “launched” and then communicated consistently.

Publish the company’s vision, goal, and values. Post them on the walls of workplaces, and mail a wallet-sized note to each employee emphasizing them. Put them on the website for other customers to view (perhaps with longer explainers for the basic constructs). Leaders should include them in all business discussions, presentations, and activities. Consider some “swag” (t-shirts, coffee mugs, or other products) commemorate the occasion. We frequently need to hear anything 6-20 times before internalizing it (this is referred to as “effective frequency” in advertising). Thus consistency is crucial.

Honour people that embody the company’s mission and values.

Stories are the most effective way for humans to learn. Words about abstract notions are wonderful, but real-world examples of workers embodying the vision, purpose, and values are invaluable. They also provide a chance to honour and celebrate those people in a business who are culture bearers both immediately and over time. Find employee tales that demonstrate the company’s purpose, and highlight little pockets where you’re accomplishing portions of the goal — possibly via client or employee interviews and profiles. Make movies of coworkers celebrating instances when they saw others demonstrating the company’s ideals. Create corporate awards to recognize those leading the way in terms of culture.

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For businesses and people, the purpose is more important than ever. Now is a critical moment to rethink your company’s basic goal, vision, and values. A deliberate response to these issues may result in a focused, reenergized, and new culture. It would be a mistake to overlook this chance.

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