Like a bad version of Fight Club, we have values, but we don’t talk about values.
Not in meetings, not in group conversations, not in our annual headquarters’ reports, not in formal or informal performance assessments, and we never call each other out for displaying behaviors contrary to the organization’s values. Wait, there was that 60-minute presentation on values at the senior manager’s course. Does that count?
Like safety and risk management, if people don’t discuss it, address it in planning, adhere to it when it’s not easy, and use it as a tool to guide decisions…values do not exist.
Patrick Lencioni, in an article for Harvard Business Review, wrote, “…when properly practiced, values inflict pain. They make some employees feel like outcasts. They limit an organization’s strategic and operational freedom and constrain the behavior of its people. They leave executives open to heavy criticism for even minor violations. And they demand constant vigilance.”
Do your values go beyond the poster board on the wall?
Do they inflict pain?
Do they invite criticism?
Is your team’s culture intolerant of decisions made that run counter to your values?
Do your values matter?