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Missions, values and policies – A waste of time?

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Are mission statements and company policies just meaningless statements with no relation to the organisation’s real values? Training consultant Nik Kellingley asks this question posed by consultant Mike Morrison in the HR Zone Any Answers forum.


I think that if a company defines their values with their employees in mind, allows them the time to appreciate what they mean and then lives those values from board or senior management down then those values can be succesfully implemented within a company.

The company I work for has four simple values that actually mean something to me and my colleagues and we try to live our lives by them because they don’t conflict with the way we want to live them.

“so many companies have ridiculous missions, direly worded policies and values that either mean nothing or directly conflict with their people. These are always next to useless”

Unfortunately so many companies have ridiculous missions, direly worded policies and values that either mean nothing or directly conflict with their people. These are always next to useless, I used to work for an organisation with a vision statement that ran to two paragraphs! They had decided to write a justification for continuing as they already were, rather than taking some hard decisions about the way the organisation needed to be in order to prosper, grow and achieve.

This vision statement was also inflicted on its staff, rather than any kind of consultation process being used. In the end it was useless, no one could be bothered to remember it, worse no one cared about it – it didn’t reflect their vision of the organisation and management hadn’t even tried to work on a “best fit” approach.

I think that the majority of companies out there have poor vision, mission and value statements and their policies are equally poor for it.

We have four organisational values: honest, confident, surprising and friendly. Everyone has had training so they understood what we meant by these values in a corporate sense and also to enable them to connect their personal values to these so that people feel they can contribute to them.

“Even organisations that express their values, mission and vision well don’t live them; in which case, they aren’t really the organisation’s values, they are lip service to a current “management trend” and serve no real purpose.”

I work with people from 110 different nationalities and cultures and as far as I can see everyone works with these values in mind – not always in the same way, but always with same goal.

And I agree also that even organisations that express their values, mission and vision well don’t live them; in which case, they aren’t really the organisation’s values, they are lip service to a current “management trend” and serve no real purpose.

It takes effort to make these things work, it requires involvement and championing at all levels of a business and it requires commitment from the top to maintain them in everything we do. Too many organisations fail the acid test when it comes to “living the dream”.

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