If your values are written down do you play less attention to them?
Most companies I visit have a set of values. In some instances they are not written down and in some they put great store in publicly displaying the values they have identified.
Whilst I have no evidence to suggest which method is best my gut feeling is that those that display values through behaviour are stronger and create a more inclusive environment than those that display their values through a sign at the office.
Those companies that behave according to a set of values that are not written down have people who have a mindset. They consider those they interact with both inside and outside the company and behave according to what they truly believe – they have empathy.
I get the feeling that when a company writes them down and displays them either on their web site or in the factory or office the values become devalued. It is almost as if their display provides an excuse for not behaving accordingly.
I was involved in collating research some time ago that demonstrated that those companies that have a strong values system have better results than those who do not recognise good values. We didn’t look at what makes values work.
Of course the sensible person would say that we should all behave properly and treat each other as we would expect to be treated ourselves but we see contradictions to this in some of the major organisations which impact on our everyday lives. I could mention those that come to mind but this is probably not the place. However, they all promote their values but they seem to fail to deliver on the promise.
I think that our beliefs and our ability to empathise with others is probably a good way forward.
How often do you place your self in the “other person’s shoes”? Surely if we can empathise we are taking the first step in understanding our values and in creating a mindset for our own behaviour.
I was asked the other day what our values were and had we written them down, I have to admit in not writing my values down. It made me think. I would be interested in your view.
As a note the picture is of Atlantic Bridge, the first bridge across the Atlantic – it is all about perception.