Misalignment of values can lead to sub-optimal performance

Consulting and outsourcing companies can help businesses take care of their employees. Their expertise can revolve around the functions of the human resources department, which could include HR compliance audits, recruiting, job description and handbook development. But some in this space are expanding their offerings to include values and vision workshops.

“A company’s values should be the starting point of every strategic discussion, change initiative and performance discussion,” says William F. Hutter, CEO of Sequent.

Organizations that realize continued success are often those that have core values that serve as the foundation for their strategies and practices. This is considered “operationalized values,” and they are often the driving force behind a high-performing organization.

However, not all companies are able to clearly define their values, and that can often lead to gaps and misalignment that means the company isn’t able to operate optimally.

Smart Business spoke with Hutter about how companies can define their values and vision.

Why is it important that a company defines its values?

Values are important because, when push comes to shove in a difficult situation, the company mission won’t guide the decision — it will be the values of the organization and the leadership that determine the outcome. It is important for every person within an organization to be aligned with the values of the company. The ability of a company to define and communicate its values becomes a stake in the ground for everyone. It can really impact a company’s mission and make it come alive for everyone in the organization.

Unfortunately, many companies aren’t able to clearly define their values. They may instead respond by defining the value proposition of their products or services. But that really misses the mark. Values are principal-centered beliefs that essentially draw the lines between good and bad, right and wrong. Values are reflected by the integrity of the organization.

How can a company define its values?

When defining company values, consider the following questions:

  • Are goals set with the involvement of employees and in alignment with the values and vision of the company?
  • Are employees regularly reminded about the ‘why’?
  • Who do you think defines the culture of the company?
  • How would your customers or clients define the culture of your company?
  • Do individuals have the authority, initiative and ability to develop and manage their work?
  • Do leaders hold individuals accountable for working cooperatively toward common goals?

What are operationalized values?

Operationalized values are the driving force behind a high-performing culture. That happens when there is alignment between the core values of employees and leaders, and a dialog about those values exists between both groups.

Without communication, however, there can be value misalignment and gaps. Sometimes both groups can be blind to the reasons why those gaps exist. This is often when it’s wise to bring in a consulting company to uncover the reasons for the misalignment.

How can a consulting company help a company define its values?

Consulting and outsourcing companies have developed offerings to help companies create alignment with a bigger purpose than just the daily grind of business. Third-party consultants have fresh eyes. They get to look at things dispassionately, above the day-to-day activities, and see across the whole of the organization in a way that leaders often can’t.

The pace of business can be relentless and it is often difficult for leadership to stop and consider the organization as a whole. Third-party consultants can step in and give business owners a chance to see the organization in a new way. Taking a step back and seeing the entire organization can present an opportunity to improve how a business is run.

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent