The Power of Values in Driving Organisational Change

Most people instinctively understand the concept of values, after all we all have them, but most people tend to think of them as something that relates to a person and not an organisation. However, many successful businesses and organisations, across a range of sectors, are successfully using organisational values as a base to improve the culture in their organisation, drive improvements and deliver real benefits to their customers.

Organisational values represent the guiding principles for the way employees go about their jobs and interact with the customers of the organisation. They define non-negotiable behaviours and they underpin the organisation’s vision.

Placing organisational values at the heart of an organisation can deliver some powerful tools when addressing your organisation’s culture. For instance, organisation values can:

  • Provide a framework for how your employees (from the CEO down) treat one another at work
  • Provide a framework for how your employees treat your customers
  • Provide a framework for achieving your vision and increasing organisational effectiveness
  • Can help to create an environment that facilitates job satisfaction
  • Can help you identify employees who agree with your company’s vision and will fit with the culture
  • Can be used in marketing your organisation’s products or services

To be effective the organisational values cannot just be invented around the Board table or with the Senior Management Team. For this values led approach to be successful, four things are critical:

  • Employees and customers’ opinions about the organisation should form a crucial part in developing the values;
  • The values must be embedded from the top to the bottom
  • The values must be visible in every day work across the organisation
  • The values must be aligned to customer expectations

A brilliant example of an organisation using values to enhance its ability to improve the quality of delivery is the Waitemata DHB. It is referred to as the “Waitemata Experience” and is a values based culture change focused on achieving better outcomes and experiences for its patients. Cruicially the DHB realised was that they couldn’t improve patient outcomes without improving staff outcomes. They determined the DHB’s values by collaborating with their staff and their customers. Their organisational values are:

  • Everyone matters
  • Work with compassion
  • Feel connected
  • Better, best, brilliant

They then worked to develop 16 core standards that relate to the values and drive goals, decision making and behaviour within the DHB.  The DHB sought and analysed feedback from employees and patients and was surprised that the employees’ and the patients’ views didn’t always align on similar topics, for example, employees tended to believe that a good clinical outcome was the top priority for patients, but patients indicated that a good clinical outcome was expected. What the patient saw as a top priority was to be able to ask questions and to be listened to by the health professionals they were dealing with.  Patients also indicated that they wanted to feel welcomed and to feel that the place was a friendly one to visit. Whereas employees indicated that appreciation and recognition by their peers and managers was high on their list of needs.

The DHB has indicated that while the Waitemata Experience is still a work in progress the impact it has had on its employees and patients has been a significant and positive one.

If you are interested in improving the culture of your organisation or keen to explore what organisational values might be able to deliver for you, please contact us.

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