Organisational Alignment - The values of success

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The globalised, highly complex and turbulent business environment has increased organisational concern to remain competitive, responsive and adaptable. If modern organisations do not invest a high level of importance towards identifying, developing, aligning and acting on their organisational values, they face little choice of success in such a relentless, fast-paced economy; and ultimately will run the risk of organisational failure. Organisational values are beliefs that specify expectations and preferred modes of behaviour, and represent a significant element of organisational culture. The alignment of organisational and employee personal values is the bedrock of successful organisational performance, as it is the foundation upon which long-term success of an organisation depends.

For employees, values are key motivators towards performance as they enable trust, efficiency and commitment. In turn, this increases employee retention, organisational growth and return of investment. In order for an organisation to develop a collective ‘voice’ and group cohesion towards optimal performance, this is dependent on the alignment of personal values and organisational values. The stronger the alignment, the more likely a collective group will remain united as a whole and work towards organisational success.

Organisations need to authentically clarify what their strategic organisational values are, and promote alignment with the personal values of employees. As an organisation unites around a shared set of values, they become more flexible, less hierarchical, less bureaucratic, and develop an enhanced capacity for collective action.

This process involves:

- Defining the values of the organisation
- Communicating them to all relevant constituencies
- Incorporating the values into all organisational activities and behaviours

The importance of organisational values for organisational success is not only embedded within organisational culture and value alignment; but also reflected in senior leadership behaviour and espoused values. It is important that such leaders direct their attention towards cultivating core organisational values, and focusing on these as fundamental ethical standards on how to relate to employees, customers, vendors and competitors. Whatever decisions are made, they will set an example to the people around them and will influence the behaviour of others in the group.

If the organisational values are not reinforced by the espoused values of senior leadership behaviour, there is room for distortion and confusion amongst employee behaviour.

To achieve a competitive edge in shaping organisational attitudes, employee commitment and organisational performance, one must focus on value alignment. Organisations will suffer the cost of sufficient change and adaptation that is required to be successful in the twenty-first century if organisational value alignment is weak. The pressure of constant change, increasing technological complexity, rapidly escalating levels of competition and heightened stakeholder expectations, has increased the importance of organisational values for success.

So, is your organisation aligned?

Key questions to ask:

- What are your current organisational values and how are these promoted, publicised and acted upon?
- Are your organisation’s values aligned with existing and newly recruited employee’s personal values?
- How do senior leaders act on such values? Does their behaviour positively influence how employees should relate to customers, vendors and competitors?