Posted by Sarah Brown on 11 Apr '17
Why values are the key foundation of a strong corporate culture
Values translate into every aspect of an organisation from the offices and work environment to how how people are rewarded and the type of people who are recruited. When we were consulting to a large corporate that had staff motivation issues the key change that had happened was that individual departments could no longer have their own coffee machine. Everyone had been forced to use a central kitchen for health and safety and efficiency reasons. Such a small change impacted how people felt about work, how valued and in control they felt and the value that was about empowering people had been undermined. Staff felt disengaged because they felt that their needs and wants had been disregarded and that the company just paid lip service to the value, it wasn’t real.
The culture in an organisation can vary in different departments unless there is a consistent set of corporate values that are understood and acted on across the organisation. That is why values are so critical, they provide the ‘moral’ compass so people know how to behave whether they are a salesman, a cleaner or the MD. Organisations adapt what they are doing based on market changes but the underlying values and ethos can stay the same – this makes the change easier to manage and helps keep key people.
A strong set of values that clearly underlie behaviour provides a framework where people can perform to their best. Because consistent values lead to a feeling of fairness everyone feels that they can fulfil their potential. A strong set of values inevitably links to a clarity about the impact and purpose of an organisation which gives work meaning. People who trust each other are generally happier and enjoy work more, they feel more able to take risks and test new ideas and learn, all of which is highly motivational.
Strong and clear values provide a rationale for decisions which is not based on a whim of a manager. When people feel they understand the ‘why’ behind what needs to happen then they are more motivated to achieve it and also more likely to be able to add value with their expertise and experience. A culture which doesn’t put goals into a wider context tends to rely on people just following what they are told to do rather than using their initiative.
A strong culture requires people who share the core values of the organisation or are willing and able to embrace the values. If these values are clear then you can recruit the right people and everyone you hire will make the culture stronger rather than undermine it.
All of this leads to a positive and strong corporate culture, whatever the size of the company.
You can read more about values and business culture: