Most organisations have guiding values signalling to employees and the marketplace how they will pursue success. As employees begin to return to their places of work, it is essential to recognise how your organisational values can assist with regaining employee engagement.
The academic research in the values area shows that both individual employees, and organisations can find themselves moving up and down a values continuum between foundation values and vision values.
Covid-19 and the resulting organisational and individual lockdowns have demonstrated how uncertainty can push both into foundation values. Leaders must now find ways to help both move back up into focus values where employees can get on with their jobs, and the organisation can thrive in a new context. Achieving these moves involves ongoing reassurance that leaders are focused on keeping employees safe while the organisation is realigning strategies to the new normal.
Talking about the organisation’s values and vision will provide a direction towards the desired future where the organisation is thriving. The pandemic has given everyone an experience of how quickly they can change when they must. By so doing, all organisational members have become skilled in change management.
- In foundation values employees focus on how to protect themselves are only engage minimally with the job in hand.
- In focus values, employees trust their manager because they know what to expect, and their manager behaves in ways consistent with the organisation’s values. Employees can perform at their best and, together with leaders, can engage with a new vision for the organisation.
- In vision values, employees are highly engaged because they are personally developing from their work experiences and a high performing workplace emerges.
Strong managers keep their people in focus values by modelling behaviour consistent with stated organisational values and doing it consistently. When managers or leaders say one thing but do another, their people downshift into foundation values because it is unsafe. Such a downshift robs them of workplace satisfaction while the organisation loses their engagement.
Values-led leaders/managers behave in ways consistent with stated values enabling their employees to move towards desired future states. Here, they begin to see and embrace new possibilities for themselves and their employing organisation.
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