Translating the Rapid Transformation of Our Values into Possibilities

For individuals, leaders and organizations, so much is shifting and evolving today. Coupled with acute challenges to global health, racial inequalities and economic disparities, it can seem overwhelming. As uncomfortable as this may be, it also presents an opportunity to re-design or refine ourselves and our organizations.

There’s no better time to reflect, recalibrate and redefine that as we start a new year.

Values underpin everything we do, from our thinking and behaviours to organizational strategy and purpose. They shine a light on what matters most and illuminate possibilities for new ways of working together with increased alignment, engagement, levels of personal happiness, productivity, and meaningful contribution in both better days and times of chaos. 

Global values survey

A recent global values survey during the COVID-19 pandemic conducted by the Barrett Values Centre reveals how our values and cultures are changing at an unprecedented pace – what would have taken potentially two to three years previously is happening in the span of three to four months. Some examples of this shift include:

  • Well-being has lifted to the 5th most important personally from #26
  • among organizational values, Results Orientation has moved down to #25 from the second-most important
  • Agility and Digital Connectivity have both moved up, to 8th from #43 for Agility and, for Connectivity, to 2nd from #50
values during Covid

There has also been a shift from performance to people focus, in terms of organizational culture, with values such as Employee Health moving up to 5th place from #61 and Caring lifting to 4th from #25. Cultures are similarly healthier with potentially limiting values such as Bureaucracy moving down to 52 from 3rd as an organizational value.

organizational culture

In terms of our personal values and what is important to people now, the top values emerging are:  

  • Making a Difference
  • Adaptability
  • Well-being
  • Caring

These values reveal the importance of both caring for ourselves and others during these difficult times and a profound sense of wanting to do work that matters in new or more flexible ways.

cultural impact of Covid

What does this mean in practical terms for individuals, leadership teams and whole organizations? How do we discover, align and adapt our values now and forge forward in the future to create even healthier cultures with greater engagement?

Discovering what matters most to you

As individuals, an understanding of our own personal values is fundamental. This may seem obvious, yet many of us haven’t consciously defined our values, explored what they mean or how we honour them in our lives and our work.

A Personal Values Assessment is a free online survey tool that reveals an individual’s personal values and provides insight about why we do what we do, how we show up personally and professionally, what triggers us and what underlies our decisions. Combined with one-on-one coaching, the results of a personal values assessment can be amplified to increase self-awareness and uncover new insights that can be turned into actions that align with our core values, helping us to move forward with greater confidence even during periods of uncertainty.

How organizations can respond

Values are also at the heart of organizational culture, consciously or unconsciously. There is a powerful invitation right now for organizations to respond to the evolving needs and values of employees, clients and all stakeholders, by building a culture to navigate challenges and thrive going forward.

Organizational culture can be measured in many ways. For the past decade we’ve used an approach, including tools from the Barrett Values Centre, that has proven to be highly effective at identifying and analyzing workplace culture and values, uncovering alignment and gaps, and creating roadmaps for future success.

Once an organization has a solid understanding of what motivates and matters most, it can design action plans based on its specific current situation and desired future state. This, in turn, creates higher levels of engagement and alignment, and drives increased performance and results.

In a recent article, Bruce McLeod, General Manager of Coaching at Vision Coaching, suggests that most organizations end up with a culture by default, not one created deliberately.

“The full-scale disruption brought on by the pandemic, while turbulent and tragic, presents a golden opportunity for today’s leaders to cultivate a culture of design – to guide their teams through the storm, establish new norms and shape an organization that is performing like it never has before.”

Organizational culture an important factor

There are also indications from research and surveys of the millennial generation that organizational culture is becoming one of the most important factors in the fiercely competitive talent market.

More than nicely wordsmithed words hanging on the wall or website, organizational values help to:

  • cope with changing environments and staying connected meaningfully
  • build greater sustainability through internal cohesion
  • ensure strategy execution through employee empowerment
  • continuously build employee loyalty through trust and experiences

Research has shown that organizations with a distinctive healthy culture are:

  • 2x as likely to quickly translate important decisions into action
  • 1.9x more likely to grow revenue faster than competitors
  • 1.7x more profitable than their industry peers

Understanding and assessing your values and culture provides leaders, teams and whole organizations with powerful tools to navigate the rapid changes we are all facing. It helps to create and adapt environments that promote positive change, well-being and high levels of engagement and productivity as well as deeper alignment of purpose to create a culture that will support a shared future.

“Culture and values provide the foundation upon which everything else is built. They are arguably our most important competitive advantage, and something that has grown to define us. It’s one thing to change the world. It’s another to do it in our own unique way.”

Jeff Weiner, Executive Chairman and Former CEO of LinkedIn

These are trying times to say the least, and yet in this moment, ask yourself, what is the shift or possibility for yourself, your team or organization? As you consider this, feel free to reach out if we can assist in designing an evolving roadmap or if you’d like to explore this further.

This article was originally published here.

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