Why you need to reassess your organisational values

Catherine Stewart

The values of an organisation are not the words on its website or the posters on its walls. They are the day-to-day behaviours, systems, and symbols that demonstrate the heart and soul of the company. Reassessing your values, then, is an integral part of reviewing your culture, and it’s vital to keep checking in on them for several reasons.

  1. Are they still serving us?

While it isn’t easy to change mindsets and behaviours, it’s important to routinely check that they are serving your strategic imperatives. Organisations regularly review and update their strategic choices, however often these decisions don’t consider that to achieve those goals, your people may need to behave differently. If you don’t reassess you values and align them to your strategy, you won’t achieve your intended outcomes.

  1. A strength overdone is a weakness

Sometimes, your behaviours may not necessarily be bad, but in excess they may be impacting business performance. For example, we see companies who have family-type values, where focussing on relationships is a great strength but which can mean difficult conversations, holding people to account, or calling out bad behaviour are sometimes avoided. By reassessing your values, you can see what’s working and what isn’t, dial up the elements that are supportive, and address those that are not, in order to reach your business goals.

  1. Reinforce living up to them

Reassessing your values also gives you an opportunity to check that you’re living up to them. Through our culture diagnostic work, we may discover that your people don’t believe that the behaviours of your organisation are in line with your stated values. Doing this exercise helps you to identify any perceived say-do gaps, take corrective action, and reinforce to your people the importance you place on your values.

  1. Manage potential conflicts

For example, you may have a value of innovation. Behaviourally, that could show up as people having lots of ideas all the time and chasing every shiny new project. This may eventually lead to exhaustion and burnout. If, at the same time, you have a value of well-being, you need to find a way of balancing these two potentially conflicting values by re-assessing the intention behind them and how they are interpreted and experienced.

  1. Ensure consistency

Re-assessing your values also gives you the space to see if any of your values are trumping others. Do some get conveniently forgotten during a crisis or buried underneath busyness, or do you hold true to them through good times and bad? With values, it’s essential to be consistent, otherwise, cynicism quickly spreads, behaviours revert, and change fails.

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