Organization Values: FOCUS in play

Organization Values F.O.C.U.S in Play
By Joey Ng

1. Organization Values: What is it?
There are many ways to define ‘Organization Values’. Most describe it as a kind of philosophy that drives success, the motivational force for performance.

2. Why do companies have values?
In The Fifth Discipline, author Peter Senge states ‘Values describe how the company wants life to be on a day to day basis, while pursing the vision.’ Kouzes and Posner state in their book, The Leadership Challenge, ‘Values provide the common standard by which people could calibrate their decisions and actions.’ With a common standard, resources can be more effectively and efficiently aligned. Clear values allow team members to work independently and interdependently because decision making processes are guided by the same principle.

Values also serve as a point of reference to hire and promote. Research has shown that when personal values are congruent with the organization values, employee commitment is higher and they will find it easier to perform (more on this in 3.1). Organizations also use values to deliver consistency, be it in production or service. And values can be seemed as a form of brand promise to stakeholders.

3. How are values used by leaders and the team?
Organizational values are used by leaders to lead, influence and set examples and members see organization values as the company’s expectation of them.

(Deviating from the title for a sentence: choosing the right personal value will define the leader’s character and personal values is one of the most powerful tools to lead, influence and set examples.)

Values build trust. The need for trust elevates when there is no direct control over each others work and it is through the subscription of shared values that team members trust everyone else is doing the right thing. Teams also use values to influence the way other members think and behave. Instead of dictating behaviors, team uses values to guide members towards the desired culture.

3.1. Are you at the right place?: Aligning personal values with organization values
Kouzes and Posner in their research found that when there is clarity between personal and organization values, people displayed the highest level of commitment. Have you ever had the feeling ‘This is not the right place for me?’

Values of an organization define the company culture. Values can be used as reference to measure how much one fits into the company’s culture. If the fit between personal and organization values are at loggerheads, perhaps a personal exit is best for all parties. Just imagine a square block trying to fit into a round hole. Probabilities will come with great deal of discomfort of all parties, square or round.

4. F.O.C.U.S. at work
In comparison to the values of most companies, FOCUS’ is unique in many ways. Instead of the usuals (integrity, continuous improvement, customer excellence, teamwork), we have ‘Fun!’ How many ompanies list fun as a standard?

Most organizations subscribe to rather common values because they promote the right social ethics and morals. Generally, organizations center their values on these 3 themes:

1) Caring attitude (internal and external)
2) Performance standards
3) Differentiation

Examine closer and you will discover elements of these themes in F.O.C.U.S. F.O.C.U.S. is easy to understand and the ‘openness’ of each values allows stakeholders to interpret and more importantly, apply the values according to the context of the event. 4.1 describe possible application of the values for all stakeholders while 4.2 demonstrates how the values drive quality in a programme.

4.1. F.O.C.U.S. for everyone
Here are some other ways to look at FOCUS Adventure values beyond the official description and possible applications in our daily dealings. One will also notice how the values are interrelated with one another.

F.O.C.U.S for Everyone

FUN
FOCUS Adventure sells fun and fun is what we are good at. A fun culture makes time
spend in the office more enjoyable and exchanging banters is one easy way to close gaps.
Fun can also be applied when conversing with clients. It will make the exchange more
lighthearted and with it, easier to close ties.

OPEN
Transparency is one of the easiest ways to build trust. We can
be open by telling and asking. Openness also covers the way
we think. In a diverse society, opinions are bound to differ.
Being open means seeing others’ outlook as an alternative
point of view, rather than a conflicting one. Every decision
we make should be based on context, thus, the right answer is
not always the right answer, if there’s such thing as right
answer in the first place.
Thinking with an open mind is one way of challenging our paradigm to allow evolvement
and at the end of the day, make better judgments.

CHALLENGE
Walt Disney – ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’
Our growth is determined by the challenges we embark on.
Human are wired to seek comfort. Seeking challenges should
first start with seeing the big picture over the initial discomfort.
Walking into any unchartered territories will sure bring about
some blips and bumps but, whatever happens is an add on to
our knowledge pool.

UNDERSTAND
We undertake many activities daily; some do more, while others do many more. When
doing what we are doing, do we understand the purpose of our actions? Understanding
and agreeing are correlated but not guaranteed. When one is working with understanding
and non-agreement, one is very likely complying. When there is both understanding and
agreement, commitment increases.

The most fundamental understanding we need is the understanding of the objective. How
we understand the objective will determine the approach we use. The objective is to
create an apple, but, it was understood as an oran ge. The approach is centered on making
an orange and the output at the end – orange.

A higher level of understanding is the understanding of everything as
a system. Everything we do is interrelated to something else some
one does. Whatever system we work within is a subset of another
system. By widening our understanding of the systems we work
within, it allows us to be ‘open’ and gain different perspectives on
the same matter.

SAFETY
Physiological safety is something we all know, psychological safety is something we tend
to over look. The environment we create, is it safe for people to be themselves, is it safe
for people to be ‘open’ and is it safe for everyone to have fun? When some deem unsafe,
it forces them to put on a mask unwillingly and narrow the communication channels to
one way.

4.2. F.O.C.U.S. for facilitators
A teambuilding programme is a system comprises of many elements and several subsystems. One good energizer will not compensate the lack of dialogue opportunities between participants and a fantastic final activity will not make up for the facilitator’s low energy level. Instead, it is the synergy of the different elements and entities that will decide whether it is a teambuilding programme, or is it a FOCUS ADVENTURE TEAMBUILDING PROGRAMME!

With so many different pieces to attend to, running a quality programme is not easy, well, it should not be! Using F.O.C.U.S. as a guideline will at least lead the programme towards the right direction and also, ensure consistency no matter who is running the show.

F.O.C.U.S for Facilitators

FUN
The FOCUS experience should be centered on the word fun: Fun in the activities and fun in the delivery.

OPEN
How open is the communication channel between the facilitators and the participants? Is it facilitation? Or is it teaching?

CHALLENGE
How challenging the activities are structure will determine the level of learning the experience can yield. Too easy, teams will make no effort, too difficult, teams will give up. How effective an activity is depends on how solid the understanding of it is.

UNDERSTAND
Understanding the need of the programme (objective) and the profile of the participants is the first step to any programme design. This understanding is also necessary to adjust the programme against the plan.

SAFETY
Field time and SA are correlated but not guaranteed. The higher a facilitator’s SA, the lower the likelihood of accidents. Safety in a programme is not limited to participants’ physiological state but, psychological state as well. Is the environment created safe enough for participants to voice their opinion, is it open enough for them to offer an alternative point of view.

Organizations values are created and designed to be purposeful and meaningful. The meanings will only be brought to life when they are implemented. In the mantra of ‘Open’, there is no fix way of utilizing F.O.C.U.S. How would apply your F.O.C.U.S today?

References
1. http://humanresources.about.com/od/strategicplanning1/a/organizvalues_2.htm
2. http://www.gurusoftware.com/GuruNet/KnowledgeBase/Business/Values.htm
3. Senge, P.M., 2006. The Fifth Discipline: The arts & practice of the learning
organization. London: Random House Business Book
4. Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z., 2007. The Leadership Challenge. 4th ed. San
Fransico.:John Wiley & Sons.