Each organisation speaks eloquently of the values it represents, using such catchwords as transparency and innovation. Values are a set of shared characteristics of behaviours and attitudes, governing the actions of particular individuals in an organisation. They also serve as criteria for making decisions and choices. Some authors think of them as a company’s DNA allowing it to maintain organisational continuity and consolidate its market success.
Organisation management is always geared towards getting a result. In the age of Internet and an instant social response, there is no room for fluff.
Some of the values have a really nice ring to it and make our hearts beat faster. On the surface, it is all peaches and cream. That said, how much truth is there in these declarations, and to what extent are they meant to woo the audience/ readers?
Are the values brought up only to recruit a new hire? Or are there firms which are sufficiently transparent to share the message, ‘we keep on learning and sometimes make mistakes, but will always put things right’ instead of making lofty promises? Have you ever read through the values of the organisation that you know well and thought, ‘what hypocrites’?
The majority of the firms today make sure to develop their VISION, MISSION and a certain catalogue of VALUES, to be proudly displayed in prominent places.
However, there is one “but”. Mission, vision, strategy, values and, last but not least, everyday actions of all employees must be interconnected and add up as a whole.
“Our corporate mission originated with our headquarters abroad and we fully endorse it”. Oh really?
Hypocrisy is something that we have to deal with quite often. It cannot be concealed. In long term, a mismatch between a company’s values and actions considerably weakens its image among clients and employees. What would you think about a company which claims to be environmentally-friendly and whose employees do not even bother to segregate waste? It is clear which missions and value catalogues were outsourced to consulting companies and are therefore completely divorced from reality, or were developed by company owners and never cascaded down the organisation by managers.
According to James L. Heskett, culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.”.
Google’s values boil down to one phrase, “Don’t be evil”. They are also incorporated in the firm’s “ten things we know to be true”. Values of most companies revolve around the same set of several simple themes (employees, clients, professional conduct, etc.). However, it is the authenticity, and not originality, that makes a given organisational culture stand out from the rest.
Google represents a flat organisational structure with few management layers and a fairly wide span of control. It is typically found in smaller businesses, e.g. start-ups. Such companies are known for promoting an atmosphere of discussion and freedom. They lack hierarchical structure, too; even new hires can challenge the top management’s decisions.
Everybody is encouraged to communicate directly with company owners and heads of departments to share their ideas. Employees are informed of the most important developments taking place in the firm, they are also kept up-to-date with the course adopted by their company. Such organisation is creativity-oriented as demonstrated by the 20-Percent Time policy. Briefly, employees can spend 20 percent of their time working on their own innovative ideas which are not part of their key duties (such impactful inventions as Gmail, Google News or AdSense originated from novel, fresh ideas). Google goes as far as to claim that this policy drives development of new products. The online giant believes that learning from one’s mistakes can only be a good thing, perceiving all its failures as opportunities to make an improvement.
What seems only natural to Google is not so common among other companies. I believe that we are part of an ongoing total transition of the labour market, including transformation of the relationship between employer and employee. Nowadays, an employee may as well become our client. People are a key asset of every enterprise. By ‘people’ we do not just mean clients, but also employees who are recipients of the company’s services, too. An organisation that wants to come off as modern must work towards strengthening relations with its members. It requires a strategy designed to create a positive employee experience. Made of an employee’s sentiments about their relations with an employer, employee experience starts with the first encounter during an interview and ends with the final interaction after termination of employment. It is very well illustrated by…
…“Action-Reaction” or how firms respond to crisis.
At the end of September, a 31-year old man with a burned esophagus was admitted to a hospital in Bolesławiec. He claimed to have drank Żywioł Żywiec sparkling water from a 0.5-litre bottle in its original packaging. Such incidents require an immediate response from a brand’s spokesperson. In this case, the brand’s reply came promptly, but some thought it was not entirely satisfactory. What helped to ease the atmosphere was the company’s Twitter account set up specifically to inform all the concerned consumers of the progress made in the case and to answer any questions. That incident showed a remarkably strong position of the brand. Next to hateful tweets, there were posts defending the brand. People declared that the incident did not put them off the product, considering the whole thing a one-off snafu.
Business Psychologist, Mentor, Founder of INSPIRE