Tuesday, 25 October 2011

What is Values Alignment?

The leader's job today, in 21st-century terms, is not about gaining followership. Followership is an outmoded notion. Leadership starts with gaining alignment with the mission and values of the organisation: What are we about? What do we believe as a group? At Medtronic, we aligned around the idea of "alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life." It was clear that anyone who didn't buy into that could work somewhere else. [Bill George]
Values alignment is an emergent property in organisations that have a critical mass of people with a common language of values and clarity about how their personal values, personal vision/mission and goals align with the desired values, mission/vision and goals of the organisation.
The following diagram illustrates four possible alignment scenarios of its people's values with those of the organisation:
Values Alignment (Source: Paula McHenry)

  • Position #1: Low personal job satisfaction/low job performance. An employee at position 1 is attaining very little personal satisfaction from working in the organisation. Similarly, the organisation perceives the person as under performing.
  • Position #2: Low personal job satisfaction/high job performance. An employee at position 2 is perceived by the organisation to be a high achiever. However the individual is receiving little personal satisfaction from working in the organisation.
  • Position #3: High personal job satisfaction/low job performance. The organisation perceives the employee as under-performing. However, the employee is getting what they want from the organisation. This is an awkward and untenable situation from the organisation’s
  • Position #4: High personal job satisfaction/high job performance. An employee at position 4 is in an optimal position. Their personal values are highly aligned with the organisation’s values, and they are perceived as a high achiever.
Obviously position #4 is the optimal scenario from the individual employee as well as the organisation’s perspective. The key to this position is for both the individual and the organisation to have clarity about their values, a well-defined sense of vision/mission and a set of meaningful objectives. A free survey is available at http://bit.ly/db38j9 for you to explore values alignment within your own organisation.
Creating Values Alignment
The Optimal Performance Model, illustrated below, provides a useful framework for conducting an organisational wide values program for the purpose of setting the right conditions for values alignment to be an emergent property of the organisation.
Optimal Performance Model (Adapted from: Smith, P. & Saint-Onge, H. 1996
Each person and each group in the organisation must give attention to:
  • Concretization. Concretizing their top 10 priority values (using techniques such as: asking VAK questions about each value, concept mapping, and/or Repertory Grid).
    "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." - Carl Jung
  • Purpose. Having regard any published organisational values, formulate personal and group values, vision and mission statements. Make statements which are uplifting and motivating.
    "Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18
  • Will. Each person reflects on their foundation and vision values, and brain-preference. Vision values motivate so, "Will this organisation enable you to be passionate about and motivated by your vision values?" Foundation values can demotivate if they are not satisfied so, "Do you have strategies and skills in place that turn these values into a solid foundation rather than an achilles heel?" "In this organisation/group, are you able to focus mainly on tasks which match your work-mode brain-preferences and priority values?"
    "How do your top 10 values compare to your group/organisation's top 10 values?" "What common ground do you see?" "If your values are markedly different to the group/organisation's values, can you see a way you could happily live your own values whilst at the same contributing to the group/organisation's values?"
    "How does the group energy management profile compare with your personal profile?"
  • Capability. "Do all in our group have the skills, resources and abilities to live our values in our workplace?" SQ = Spiritual Intelligence, EQ = Emotional Intelligence and IQ = intelectual intelligence, "Do we have the knowledge to develop these intelligences within our group?"
    The group skills profile indicates the skills needs of your group based on the values you all have. "What are the implications of this profile for your group?"
The above program works, and it works very well, because it creates a strong values system (strange attractor) within the organisation based on its people's actual values--self-organisation does the rest. If you are unfamiliar with how self organisation works, the two videos below (the first pertains to childhood education, however, the principles are universal) give a good overview:

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