You may have seen that Acre recently received its B-Corp certification. While all of us at Acre and Acre Frameworks are delighted at the news, you may have noticed it was communicated a little differently to how organisations normally talk about receiving such recognition.
The open letter about receiving B-Corp status from our founder, Andy Cartland, gave an insight into a question that I pose to you:
“Do the personal values of employees need to align with the values of the business that they work at, especially within purpose-driven organisations?”
With my background in psychology and learning and development (L&D), you would think the concept of values would come easily to me - but theory and practice are two very different things. Having worked in, and with, many different organisations I've seen values being approached in a variety of ways - many not adding any ‘value’ at all.
Most of us have seen posters on the walls in our corporate offices telling us what the values of the company are. In reality, how often did we actually experience them? Were they genuinely lived and breathed on a daily basis (rhetorical!)?
Values are often treated in a very superficial way, in one extreme, if even mentioned at all. Conversely, the other extreme is they are overly defined, measured, scrutinised and can become highly intrusive.
However, if you are working for a purpose-driven organisation, it is likely that you share the same values of that organisation. Why? Quite simply, because that is what attracted you in the first place. Brands are so easy to identify, explore, and interact with in modern society via social media. The scrutiny this allows means that the ‘true’ values are hard to hide. The amount of attention that greenwashing currently receives is testament to that. The challenge is the difference we experience between our values and those that we experience around us.
Steve Simpson, a psychologist, researched this extensively with more than 132,000 employees in 900 organisations in Australia and New Zealand. He defined corporate culture as: “People’s perceptions of the way we do things around here.” Often, despite employees sharing similar values, their behaviours create different perceptions.
Perceived values don’t intrinsically come from how much we care about those values but how we demonstrate those values – and that can vary significantly. Having aligned values does not make everyone behave in the same manner.
Speaking to a colleague (thank you Jeff!) about this, reinforced the focus on behaviours. Jeff said to me: “Behaviours are actions that drive us forward to create change and can be evidenced. Beliefs are merely thoughts.” Therefore, it’s what we do that matters, and how we show what we believe in is what will land with other people.
Organisations can explore whether people care about what they do and why they do it. They can look at whether or not you share the same values as them, and the chances are that for the most part, those will align. If you look you will find that most organisations have very similar values. The key point is to understand the behaviours that potential employees will utilize in the role, how they will work in the organisation, and how they will effect change and success.
That’s what people will interact with and observe daily and as a result this will lead to others’ perception of the culture.
If you want to know how Acre Frameworks can help you and your team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org