Why (organizational) values matter?

Whilst being compare to the mission and vision of the companies, organisational values have always been downplay as a good-to-have addition to the mission and vision statements and provides an aesthetical feel to the entirety of the image of the organisation; yet interestingly enough, how could something as visual as the face of the organisation seen only as something so superficial.

After facilitating 500 (thereabouts) corporate teambuilding programmes for companies whom are either having their annual teambuilding or going through a post-merger or post-restructuring process; a troubling yet critical element of these sessions surfaces. Most of these sessions placed emphasis on creating social interactions between the team members, inducing cooperative efforts between the team members or understanding collaborative efforts between the various team mates; there is rarely, if any, efforts to reinforce organisational values. The lack of emphasis of organisational values for a teambuilding session is understandably so, because values are usually inducted during the initial phase of a partner’s/employee’s journey with the organisation.

While it is understandable for the lack of emphasis through his/her journey with the organisation, this doesn’t signify a lesser importance for the need of organisational values. One could understand organisational values as the D.N.A. of the organisation and the foundation of which the culture is built upon.

A relevant example of importance of values to the corporate culture and decision making would be Google. Google’s values are “avoid micromanagement, openness, general ethics and corporate citizenship” which breeds it’s culture of open spaces and market its employees as “Googlers” as a form of citizenship, these creates a sense of belonging for it’s ‘citizens’.  Organisational values not just shape the organisation’s environment and culture, it also plays an important “decision-making-guideline” for it’s products and decision making process, this is evident in Apple’s “value simplicity and avoid complexity” which in particular showcases its Iphone products to be elegantly simple and intuitive for even adolescence to utilize.

Organisational values also clarify the skeletal understanding of the company’s priorities; for e.g., using a particular ministry’s values: In pursuing this mission as XXXX’s officers, we remain always constant and true to our core values of HONOUR and UNITY; with their explanation of their values as extracted from their website written as follows:

HONOUR

We will always carry out our mission with honour, guided by the values of bravery, impartiality, integrity and the moral courage to do the right thing even in the face of personal danger and adversity.

UNITY

Unity is the key to our strength. While individually our departments are strong, collectively we are even stronger when united as a XXXX.  Our diversity becomes the source of strength. We respect each other as partners and the pursuit of a shared mission to keep Singapore safe and secure.

As XXXX’s officers, we will serve with determination, pride and passion, bonded always by the core values of Honour and Unity.

From the above-mentioned values, the amount of emphasis placed on seeking the individual’s commitment to the organisation speaks volume of the organisation’s priorities towards obligatory sacrifice and the team’s spirit towards a need for cohesion. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as these values originates from the Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore (MHA is the umbrella ministry overseeing Singapore’s Police Force and Civil Defence Force of Singapore).

Hence, regardless of the nature of the gathering sessions from formal settings such as Annual General Meeting to informal sessions such as teambuilding sessions, there should be at least a slight emphasis towards the core values before it becomes an estrange list of words.

Written by Damien TEONG (Facilitator)
on 3rd January 2018