The Corporate Moral Compass: Upholding Core Values

Values, Mission and Vision statements are widely used and a common practice in organizations. The creation of them is often a painful process when done by a committee, as it reminds one of the camel being a horse designed by a committee – it’s hard to agree on the exact wording and priorities. That said, once established, how well does the organization actively promote them?

Let me expound a bit here on the Values portion of this trio. While Vision points a direction and Mission communicates the higher aspirations an organization may seek, it is the Values that guide the day-to-day actions and behaviors of an organization.

At Austin, our performance reviews tie directly into our Values. How well does an employee abide by, or better yet, demonstrate the Values in their work? While it is a good platform for evaluating performance, in reality it is simply a good start. 

I believe that without making Values a part of everyday discussion and conversation, we lose the opportunity to amplify our Values. And I believe that without a focus on Values, the Vision and Mission are essentially meaningless – how can long-term goals and high aspirations be attained if the day-to-day principles that supposedly define the Organization aren't practiced? Indeed, it is practice that is the essence of exhibiting Values in how we work. We're human and we sometimes fail in how we react to situations. We have to be continually mindful and reminded of how what we do and how we do it aligns with those things that we agree define the Company.

It is in those failings where the opportunity to strengthen the organization's practice of the Values lives. Values can, and should, drive the dialog around the failings. Such a dialog is a great tool for exploring and assessing behaviors, actions and communications within the Company. The discussion of a challenging event in an interaction, maybe it was the way something was communicated, or handled, or maybe not done, doesn’t need to be a reflection of personal feelings or experiences – i.e., it doesn't need to get personal.

The whole exploration of the event, say with an offended party and the offending party, can reference the Values of the Organization that no one can dispute – it is the basis for what bonds us. And making that the basis of the dialog enables everyone to (hopefully) achieve a common understanding of how what they are doing impacts the Vision and Mission that are the purpose for our being an Organization.

So, the idea here is that going through the pain of creating Values, Vision and Mission statements results in a great opportunity to really use them as a moral compass for our day-to-day actions. Similar to the whole idea of continuous improvement – there is no standing still. If you are not making progress at it, you’re falling behind. In the case of Values, it’s a huge opportunity to enable communications and growth to occur in (almost) perfect alignment with the reason you're all doing this anyway.     

Read about The Austin Company’s Core Values.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”

Roy E. Disney

My values, our values, aren't about pointing fingers. They are about offering a helping hand.”

Kathleen Blanco

Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.

Brian Tracy