How To Destroy Corporate Bottlenecks: Demonstrate Your Value System

Last month, our CEO, Fulton Breen spoke to the Raleigh-Wake Human Resources Management Association’s monthly meeting, where he covered the topic “Alignment Analytics Point the Way to a Stronger Culture.”

In his presentation, he addressed the problem many companies have with implementing their set of values: “Your Code of Conduct is published, your quarterly meetings include recognition of those acting out the mission of the company, and the company’s stated values are front and center on your website – now what?”

Fulton was talking about the problem company leadership sometimes runs into when trying to communicate values to their employees. Although leadership has taken the time to outline a value system, employees are often unclear about how to directly apply this framework to everyday decision making. As a result of this confusion, corporate bottlenecks can form, as you’ll see demonstrated below.

Before getting to the “Now What” part of the presentation, Fulton asked the attendees to take a short survey, walking them through Novareté’s Dilemma platform. We have delivered this Dilemma to previous groups of HR professionals, and you can view the results of these surveys here or here.

The Dilemma- Wasted Time

You’ve been less productive at work because of lack of sleep. You’re an hourly employee and submit a timesheet for payment. For this period, you’ve easily wasted two hours due to lack of productivity. Although you’ve exceeded past expectations, you’re considering subtracting two hours from your timesheet before submitting it.

What do you do?

 strong culture

The Results

Similar to previous times we’ve delivered this Dilemma to audiences, there is not a majority answer. Just over 40 percent of responders answered C: Seek advice from your supervisor and follow her guidance. Both A and B received the same amount of responses, and answer D received less than 10 percent of responses.

RWHRMA Dilemma Results.png

What’s Alarming

Most companies have a stated mission and values, but research shows that less than 30% of employees understand them.

This is played out in the answers given by the HR professionals. By choosing to send the decision-making power up the chain, the professionals implicitly recognized that they did not fully understand their companies’ value system. If they had, they would have felt empowered to make the decision on their own – choosing Option A, B or D.

HR professionals are ideally the ones who understand a company’s value set the best – outside of leadership. So you can only imagine what would happen if we gave the test to the rest of these companies’ employees? If you said “bottleneck,” you’re probably right.

This question teases out the nuance of “following the spirit of the law” vs. “following the letter of the law.” For instance, most employees understand that legally, they are only able to get paid for the work they do. However, FLSA regulations require companies to pay hourly workers for the time they show up – not based on their output while they’re at work. Thus, employees are left with a conundrum: Do I file my timesheet based on the hours I was present or do I file it based on the hours during which I was productive?

You can see how this is unclear to an employee not familiar with his or her company’s value system. Thus, it’s little surprise that the largest answer chosen was Answer C, “I’ll ask someone else and let them decide.”

What You Can Do – The Solution

Executives attempt to create awareness of values and eliminate ambiguity of what those values mean by leading by example. It is difficult to scale the Tone at the Top, especially across multi-location and multi-cultural companies.

Only with unaided awareness and clarity of what those values mean, can a company move from a collection of individuals that are literally obedient to stated rules to an engaged team that instinctively lives out the intent of corporate values in the decisions they make every day.

How does this look in the day-to-day activities of your company? Just that: That these activities are day-to-day. Quarterly reminders and mission statements on bulletin boards are helpful, but they can quickly fade into the background of an employee’s mind. For constant engagement, you’ll need a constant reason to engage. This is what we do at Novareté.

The dilemma here is only one of many examples of ethical situations in which employees can find themselves. Through Novareté’s platform, you can provide weekly Dilemmas, which will measure your employees’ understanding and alignment with your values. This is because each answer in our Dilemmas correlates with a different value. By comparing the results of your employees’ answers to the values set by leadership, you can find a greater understanding of where your message is resonating and where it is breaking down.

If you want to see how the platform works, I suggest you check out our Leadership Assessment tool. It will help you see how your team aligns on Dilemmas and understand the gaps. All for FREE.