What exactly are values? Values are the core set of principles that drive your decisions and behavior. They are "valuable" in the sense that they are an important compass for us as we cycle through life. A well understood value system becomes most valuable in ambiguous circumstances--times when you cannot find the answer in a book, the Internet or the law. I'm talking about situations that compel you to make a judgment call in unfamiliar territory. When you are experiencing something for the first time, you don’t have past experience to rely on in making a decision. Values are the guide. These same issues exist within organizations as well. Having a deliberate and clear set of organizational values is essential for success in the world we operate in today.
As a manager you have two choices. You can attempt to write a policy and procedure manual that covers what to do in every possible situation, or you can integrate values into your people practices and rely on employees to make “good” choices based on those values. The first alternative is all too often tried, but always fails. Employees can’t memorize volumes of policy and procedure and often end up feeling as if they can’t move without checking the policy manual first. They can however learn expected behaviors as they relate to clear organizational values. The most successful organizations have followed this path leading to a values based and well-known organizational culture.
By Jeff Sullivan