This #GivingTuesday we have decided we are #GivingBack as an organisation by a series of blogs on a topic that is at the heart of what Ezrah is all about: values. Our first one here is on the importance of values in shaping organisational culture.

Values are an integral part of every organisation as it refers to the core beliefs that drive decisions in the short-term and shape culture over the long-term. Culture is important, because this is what we invest in people and what people will most likely remember about their engagement with our organisation. Think about this: Do people describe your organisation as non-caring, corrupt and deflating or people-focused, ethical and inspirational?

When leaders and staff within an organisation can connect to the ethical value system of an organisation at a heart level and make it part of their personal decision-making process,  they are empowered to implement the mission of the organisation in such a way that people feel truly valued and cared for.

So, how do we build this ethical culture based on our core values?  Simon Mainwaring gives this advice: “Define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice and then communicate consistently in those terms.”

The following questions may be helpful in building a value-based framework for your organisation:

  • What are your organisation’s core values?
  • What meaning does your organisation attach to each value?
  • How is each value intentionally translated into specific behaviours by your team?
  • How are these behaviours consistently role-modelled by the leaders of the organisation?
  • How can each team member be supported to grow in those behaviours?
  • When our values get tested, how do we ensure consistency in implementation?
  • If we miss the mark on a particular value, how do we correct it?

A well-defined value system that is intentionally developed within the team of an organisation may go a long way in establishing ethical culture.  But it is only when the culture gets tested that we really know if it comes from the heart. As Jon Stewart puts it:  “If you don’t stick to your values when they are being tested, they’re not values, they’re hobbies.” May we truly impact culture through our commitment to live out our core values in even the smallest of decisions.

Written by Mariette Jacobs (MD of Ezrah Community Training and Development NPC)