Friday, February 11, 2011

Core Values are the Basis for Organizational Effectiveness

As you know by now, I spent 23 years at Procter & Gamble, starting at the bottom of the advertising/marketing ladder and with the company’s policy of promoting from within, rose to an executive level. The advantage that I had, as do all P&G employees, is the fact that the core values are known and lived by not only a few in management, but almost everyone around you.

It was easy to see employees, who were dedicated, management who cared about the staff and who knew the business and customers who were loyal. The logic of why this organization worked so well was obvious. It was the solid foundations on which this corporate structure was built. Those foundations were the corporate values. However, they were not mentioned overtly. Nor were they written up on any brass plaques or signs hanging on the walls. But evident they were. How did this organization succeed in having “everyone singing from the same book”? The answer lies in the nature and extent of the training that all staff experienced and shown daily by all around who served as role models.

Some management writers have coined the phrase “walking the talk”. It is intended to mean that management, and particularly top management, must model the behavior they expect of others. But how often does it happen and more importantly, does it work? As Lebow points out “The only thing that really changes behavior is when the proclaimed values are practiced at every level, including at the top”. The inference can be drawn that not only must managers “do what they say”, but there also must be a collective understanding of “what precisely it is that we should all do”.

In today’s economic environment, spending 23 years with one company is rare. So is the promotion from within concept because it entails training and development investments and the knowledge that much of the benefit is going to go to other companies as employees move on. We have been scripted as consumers and business managers to want “instant” gratification. Hire someone who has the talent and experience based on previous work and companies and utilize them until either they no longer can provide the value or they are lured away by other companies.

I have also found that candidates when evaluating possible employment opportunities with another company seldom consider the values of that company and whether they match with their own value set. Certainly position, title, compensation, perks and expected work are all evaluated Yet the single greatest reason for people moving from one company to another is their lack of fit with company values in one way or another.

Having worked for Procter & Gamble and then Clorox from the time I came out of graduate school, I perhaps foolishly assumed that all companies had positive company values. I quickly found that this wasn’t the case when I moved to my first privately held company. The business results and internal chaos were a direct reflection of ill-defined and often negative company core values.

Most successful companies focus on their core competencies, not to be confused with core vales, at least to some extent and there is a desire to hone those competencies. This leads to the companies instituting MBOs, Quality Circles, TQM, ISO9000+, Benchmarking, Process Engineering, Six Sigma and many others. While all these strategies are based on sound theory, they do not reflect the very nature of why the organization has been successful that of corporate behavior that is based on shared values - the Core Values of the company

We are often asked as we lead the strategic business planning process for clients, why we start with the Core Purpose of the company and the Core Values. All organizations have values, whether they are publicly evident or not. These drive the success of the business plan that we are creating. That success is ultimately dependent on the people in the organization and how well they work and exhibit the Core Values.

By now, you should be convinced of the importance of Core Values and making them a living part of your organization.


The questions for you as a leader of your organization, whether at the “C” level or down through manager are:
1 What are your personal Core Values?
2 How well are they known and lived?
3 How do they match up with the Company’s Core Values?

You don’t need a behavioral scientist or an organizational development expert to help you. You and other business people can identify them and then instill them. If you need help, contact us. Core Values provide strong foundations for organizational effectiveness.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

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