Organisational and personal values

browningyork Case-study, Charity, Engagement, Organisational culture, University

Values are important to me.

List of values - integrity enthusiasm connected positive supportive reliableMaybe that’s why I work in the not-for-profit and academic sectors. It certainly helps with running my own business – the values that frame my working life are entirely my own, not something that has been dictated or developed by others. This ensures that the work I choose to do fits with my vision of the world and the difference that we can all make.

Consultation
A few years ago, I was involved with a consultation on organisational values for one of my clients. It was an enjoyable project for many reasons:

  • I travelled all over the UK
  • I met lots of lovely people doing amazing roles
  • Even when group participants disagreed with each other or with me, they were very considerate about it – “I disagree with you there, isn’t that funny!”
  • Most importantly the process was genuinely consultative, with the words changing in light of consistent feedback from staff and volunteers.
  • This project was a chance to put into practice two key areas for internal communicators. Firstly, IC teams need to listen to employees’ views (in this case about values) and reflect those back to leaders; we are often best placed to do that, as we work cross-organisationally and are approachable. Secondly, it is important that we help leaders to use that insight to shape what happens next.

    Personal and organisational values
    I work with charities and other not-for-profits, so the chances are that organisational values are fairly aligned with individuals’, in a way that perhaps they aren’t always in the corporate world. But they are still organisational and have to reflect the views of many others, not just one individual.

    One of the many things that I appreciate about working for myself is that I get to set the values by which I work. Many years ago, before I became a freelancer, I took a personal development course that encouraged you to access your creativity to understand yourself better. This involved drawing and writing in a journal and following set exercises to get at the core of what is really important to you. One of the exercises was to make a six-pointed values star, showing what is important to you. I really enjoyed this exercise and easily identified the points on my star.

    When I set up my own business a little while later, I figured that I ‘should’ have some organisational values. And then it dawned on me that all my personal values fit just as well in a business context. The way I apply each one may be slightly different in a business and personal setting, but fundamentally I can still be me in any context. My actions match the words that adorn my office wall, where my values star takes pride of place.

    Values star with integrity enthusiasm connected positive supportive reliable written on it

    If you would like help with communicating your organisation’s values and ensuring that words and actions match, please get in touch for a chat.

    Until next time
    Sarah