Values can easily be overlooked but both individuals and organisations rely on them.
Most organisations have a set of values - often a set of inspiring words and phrases - that underpin the culture and ethos. These are the skills, attitudes, behaviours and beliefs that run through the organisation.
Most public sector workers entered their careers with a goal of helping people. This goal plus the values of the health sector are core to job and patient satisfaction.
But in a world of budgets cuts and tightening deadlines, along with increasing performance targets, it is easy to forget the values.
What impact do they have on staff in their day-to-day working lives? After a 10-hour night shift, for example, how important are an organisation’s values?
But if you lack values and if the prevailing atmosphere is one of rife self-promotion with people trying to make personal gains at any cost, you will end up with unfulfilled staff and customers who are not cared for or respected who never want to return.
The phone-hacking scandal caused the demise of The News Of The World, when its practices that went against commonly held values of the public were exposed.
Take a minute to assess your own values - your core behaviours and beliefs. One exercise to help you do this is something that Lane4 did recently at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College hospitals in a programme that centred around developing performance-focused frontline leaders.
Making sense of values
Assess your own values - what do you hold at your core?
- Re-read your organisation’s values and compare them with your own - what are the similarities and differences?
- Talk about them with colleagues and managers - make sure you reconnect with them and that they are at the heart of what you do.
- Reassess these values and see if they need to change or be adapted.
Imagine you are at your retirement party. Vividly capture this picture in your head - who is there, what are they doing? What are they eating? What are they wearing? Now, imagine four guests - a patient, a colleague, a family member and a former boss - are to give speeches about you and recount some experiences they’ve had with you.
What would you want them to say about you? What types of characteristics and behaviours would you want them to associate with you?
This will help you focus and clarify your personal values - perhaps how you treat others, or how you communicate or make decisions.
Now, list these characteristics and compare them with the organisation’s values. There are sure to be many more similarities than gaps - after all, you are working in this company, and are a part of the culture. You “live” these values and principles on the job, and were recruited with these in mind.
So, although you may not think your organisation’s values have anything to do with your daily work, it is the opposite - everything you do and say is a reflection of the organisation, and a projection of the values that it holds dear, and that make it the success it is.
Mark Richardson is a senior consultant at Lane4. He designs and delivers people development programmes in a range of industry sectors. His approach is shaped by having been coached in athletics at elite level and histransition from professional sport to the business world.