Values - empower the desired culture and behaviors

What is a set of values?

A value base is a statement of ideals that are highly valued in the workplace. Values are the beliefs that guide employee behavior. A values statement is often found alongside the workplace mission and vision. Often, the three get mixed together in an unsightly mishmash. To avoid gray conceptual mush, it's important to first clarify the differences:

The mission is the fundamental purpose of the organization, its reason for existence. The mission anchors the organization's position and clarifies what the organization was created for. The mission is a timeless statement of why the organization exists.

The vision expresses the image of the desirable, long-term future of the organization. While the mission anchors the organization's position, the vision sets the direction for the organization's development. The vision answers questions such as: Where do we want to go? What does the ideal situation look like in three, five or seven years for our organization? And what do we want to achieve by then that we haven't managed to achieve now?

Unlike mission and vision, values are not about results that the organization needs to create now or in the future. Instead, values tell us what should characterize employee behavior in order for the organization to succeed in creating results. In other words, values are the collective overlay that clarifies what behavior is inside and outside the organizational playing field.

Benefits of a well-defined set of values

Values stem from the theories of values-based management. Values are concise, abstract notions of desirable behavior that employees should act upon. They are guiding ideals and overarching beliefs.

The rationale behind value-based leadership is that we live in a more unpredictable world than the one that classic leadership theories are based on and try to explain. Today, leaders rarely get far if they boss around employees - especially knowledge workers, who often have more professional insight into the tasks than the leaders themselves.

Values-based leadership is for leaders who want to lead their organization with freedom under responsibility. But not complete freedom. Employees still need to perform their tasks within an overall framework that is shared by all employees and that will help the organization live up to its mission and achieve its vision.

This freedom with responsibility is one of the main benefits of a well-defined set of values. Fixed rules and procedures can quickly become stumbling blocks for highly skilled employees and specialists who need to use their knowledge to make quick decisions.  

With values-based leadership and a set of values for the organization, managers delegate more responsibility to employees, allowing them to make more decisions themselves. The goal is for the values to become common points of reference that allow employees to manage themselves within the overall framework set out by the values.

The values are an alternative to a more rule-driven organization, as they clarify the overall scope of action that employees can act within.

Stronger reputation and differentiation

Another benefit of a values framework, which is of particular interest to HR and marketing professionals, is that clear values contribute to a stronger reputation. When values are communicated externally, it becomes clear what the organization stands for, takes pride in living by and ascribes importance to. In this way, the organization can differentiate itself from other organizations, and potential employees, citizens or customers get a clear picture of what should characterize the organization's culture and approach to doing business.

 

If employees, customers and users can "see themselves" in the values, it can be easier to attract new employees and get customers and users to support the way the organization performs its tasks. In addition, current employees and managers can assess their behavior in relation to the values. Are we behaving in a way that is consistent with the values? Or does something need to change?

Metaphorically speaking, a set of values is a behavioral compass for employees to navigate by and a differentiation tool to clarify what the organization stands for.

How we can help you

We offer you management and organizational sparring, research-based training and presentations on values, as well as training courses with a specific focus on giving you and your organization general management skills. Read examples of our services here.

Presentations

Inspiring research-based presentations on values for all levels of your organization

Sparring

Sparring in connection with the development of your organization, your decisions and initiatives.

Workshop

Facilitation of active workshops focusing on competence development at management and executive level.

Successful anchoring of core values

Having mentioned the benefits of values-based management, it's also worth mentioning some of the typical risks that can stand in the way of successfully embedding values.

Many organizations simply articulate a series of value words - such as "collaboration" or "innovation". This is not enough. Values need to be unfolded in associated value statements that ensure employees get a nuanced and complete picture of what behaviors are associated with living the values.

Next, the values need to be translated in dialog with employees. Launching the values on posters, coffee cups and other organizational wall decorations is an implementation failure. There is a need for thorough dialogues and reflections on the importance of values, and leaders must take the lead as role models for values.

Finally, work must be done systematically to anchor the values in the organization's existing routines, rather than relying on the values to take on a life of their own once they have been formulated. For example, they must be integrated into employee performance reviews and used in job postings and onboarding of new employees, just as managers must enforce the values when they are ignored or counteracted in everyday behavior.

In a nutshell: Working with values is not the result of a process, but an ongoing process that creates lasting results.

How can LEAD help you develop and embed your values?

At LEAD, we specialize in supporting organizations in developing and embedding values.

We have solid experience in facilitating the processes that lead to the development and anchoring of a value base. Specifically, over the years we have supported a large number of private and public organizations in formulating their value base, and we have subsequently acted as trusted advisors for management teams seeking help in anchoring the value base in the organization's daily practice.

Our services range from inspirational presentations on the key points to consider when developing and embedding values, to facilitating long-term, large-scale participatory development processes where we support you in collecting, analyzing, condensing and compiling input for value frameworks through e.g. workshops, conversation salons or interviews. In connection with value base processes, we can also help develop organizational leaders in the discipline of value-based management.

The consulting team working with values

Claus Elmholdt

Professional Director | Founder | Read more here

Christian Qvick

Partner | Read more here

Rasmus Engelbrecht

Partner | Read more here

Maja Nyboe Bjerrehuus

Senior Consultant | Read more here

Kim Martin Nielsen

Partner | Read more here

Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your organization

Are you facing an organizational change? Do you need strategic advice or a cultural development program?

Contact us and together we will tailor a process that develops the exact competencies and structures that strengthen and future-proof your organization.

Christian Nyvang Qvick

Partner

Cand.scient.pol

Cell phone: +45 26 79 85 93

Email: cnq@lead.eu