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Investing in Values... Is it a Luxury?

On a journey to the Jordanian capital to participate in the Prophetic Values Conference organized by the Heritage Revival Association in collaboration with the Private University of Applied Sciences, I answered the usual question, "What is your field of work?" by saying, "I work in promoting the organizational culture based on a values system." The reaction to my answer was encapsulated in a sarcastic chuckle, not directed at me to the extent that it portrayed the harsh reality. Quickly, I was advised to consider another job, as this field is scarcely in demand for services or products. What is the reason that makes some view discussing organizational values in the workplace as a form of luxury or a futile effort?

2 Dhu al-Hijjah 1444, corresponding to June 20, 2023.

It is understood that organizational values are one of the desired pillars of change in the strategic transformation of institutions within the three sectors: public, private, and non-profit. They are also a cornerstone of the organizational culture that supports leadership in achieving strategies and goals. If the prevailing culture in the organization is not painted by a values system, the strategy becomes its first victim, as Peter Drucker says. Through providing consulting and training services to various entities served by Arrowad for Building Values, discussions, workshops, and reviewing experiences, several reasons contribute to this, including:

Awareness of Importance:

There is a weak awareness of the importance of organizational culture and values. This can be attributed either to neglect in advertising and promotion, contrary to what is achieved by the vision, mission, and goals, or to placing them merely as words decorating the walls of the institution and its websites, or alternatively, owners and leaders may adopt conflicting behaviors that contradict the declared values system. Ignorance of the importance may not be limited to a lack of desire for change; it can escalate to hostility, as people tend to be hostile towards what they do not understand. Therefore, at Arrowad for Building Values, our aim is to build awareness and correct misconceptions about values, highlight their benefits, positive returns from practicing them, and clarify the danger of behaviors contrary to them., for judging something is a branch of one's perception.

The prevailing culture in the organization, unless colored by a values system, the strategy will be its first victim.

The Need for Values:

The presence of pre-built systems, taken during strategic planning and roadmap construction, without considering their actual need or their direct and indirect service to the objectives, they may be personal convictions of the owners, and although this is essential in shaping the institutional values system, it is not sufficient. It should be supported by a study of best practices, experiences, and a qualitative analysis of each value. How it can serve the goal, what initiatives and programs it can offer. Therefore, systematic work requires that the institutional values system stems from a real need, fills a gap in the future direction of the institution, and helps achieve the objectives.

Alignment with the work environment:

Awareness of the importance of institutional values may exist with a high percentage, and the system may be systematically and soundly structured. However, has it been defined with a definition that suits the field of work, the orientations of the institution, and its suitability for the services and products it offers to beneficiaries? Have the sub-components been considered? For example, the value of integrity; one of its sub-components is time management, and wasting time during working hours by browsing social media and the subsequent distraction, weakness in self-discipline, requires a waste of money, and a loss of beneficiaries' time and suffering in obtaining the required service; the effects of which may extend to distant levels in their personal lives. Therefore, aligning the definition of each value, no matter how widespread and prevalent it is globally, is of paramount importance and helps in determining the behavior required from the individual towards it.

At Arrowad Company, we offer dozens of tools, including
training programs.

Costs of promoting values:

The financial cost of promoting a values system in the work environment is one of the challenging factors for some leaders and owners, whether after adopting a budget for building and promoting values or with the existence of a budget. The focus tends to consider training as the only tool to empower values. Here, at Arrowad Company, we offer dozens of tools, including training programs, which are less costly and more impactful. Although working with a values-driven approach establishes, according to strict rules, the foundation to protect the institution in cases of setbacks or contraction, because an individual who integrates functionally, feels valued and encouraged in the work environment, recognized for their efforts, and surrounded by a healthy atmosphere, proves to be sincerely loyal, patient, and adaptable in challenging situations.

Values in Administrative Work Procedures:

The weak reflection of institutional values in the procedures of the organization is evident. There is no presence of these values in competency recruitment processes, talent retention strategies, recruitment forms, or in annual and periodic evaluation models, and promotions, and so on. If there are any signals, they are weak, not providing the minimum awareness that each value requires specific competencies so that we can say that this individual has acquired value. Therefore, the existence of a values system with the interpretation of each value, and what it requires in terms of behaviors and competencies, accompanying the individual from the moment they express a desire to join the institution until their retirement, is necessary and vital. It motivates them internally to acquire everything the value requires in terms of awareness, emotions, beliefs, behavior, and skills

The system should include other values that focus on strengths, such as innovation, creativity, excellence, relationships, mastery, and more.

Values Lead:

Many employees feel that talking about values is, in fact, an additional burden on them alongside their assigned tasks. This perception is a result of a limited view, where one’s mind tends to associate values solely with aspects of integrity, loyalty to commitments, honesty, and avoiding any shortcomings or violations. However, the system should include other values that focus on strengths, such as innovation, creativity, excellence, relationships, mastery, and more. With a discerning look, an individual finds that values help them elevate themselves, build and develop their capabilities, and make serious and informed investments in themselves. Values assist in reducing internal conflicts and biases towards principles they aspire to, contributing to improving their mental health and self-satisfaction.

Enumeration of Tools:

The impact resulting from the implementation of several programs to enhance values and instill them in the work environment requires the availability of various factors, such as the timeframe for change, the presence of inspiring leadership that adopts this culture, and the execution of educational tools to share knowledge and disseminate the value culture. These tools may take more time than training, with lower costs. Additionally, large organizations are encouraged to qualify ambassadors for values who receive knowledge transfer and then lead programs and enhanced activities.
Among the fundamental reasons outside the organization's environment is that discussions about values are often superficial, lacking in robust scientific methodologies, and not focusing on a comprehensive view in building suitable content. Moreover, there is a lack of emphasis on the four dimensions of values: cognitive, emotional, moral, and behavioral. The writer or speaker does not differentiate them based on the individual's living environment, causing confusion in the reader's or listener's perspective. Therefore, the organizational culture encompassing a values system is one of the components of the strategic orientation of the institution and a significant driving force for achieving its objectives. Talking about values is not just an announcement but a set of practices where leadership aligns with employees, along with procedures and creating a supportive environment. When these elements exist, the return on investment in this area can be observed, measured, and built upon, a goal pursued by many government, private, and non-profit sector organizations.

Dr. Ahmed Almulaiki

Senior Executive Advisor

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