12 April 2017

Organisational Values: What They Are and Why They Are Important

Why Organisational Values are so Important

The deeply rooted desire for success in all companies sets the framework for setting company goals and staff objectives. Google supports this view with the ‘Business Dictionary’ definition of an organisation: ‘a social unit of people structured and managed to meet a particular need or a defined set of goals’. Given this, it’s clear that organisational values must be closely linked to overall organisational success.

​To achieve its objectives an organisation must establish its values. Even if they are not consciously created, the way people behave towards one another will create a default set of organisational values – and these may not be what you’d ideally like. Best then, to invest some time in deciding what you’d like them to be, rather than leaving it to chance. Values find their way into every nook and cranny in an organisation – they guide how people behave and serve as an external reference point. They become what you are known for, so it best be something of which you can be proud.

​Professors Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron (University of Michigan) developed a model to explain current types of organisational values, outlined below.

The Four Approaches to Organisational Values:

1. The Clan Culture:

This model promotes cooperation and synergy in all its activities. Its main values are rooted in teamwork, communication and consensus. In this clan, leadership is based on mentorship and is not dictatorial.

2. The Adhocracy Culture:

This is based on energy and creativity. Individual ingenuity is highly valued by this system. Members are given free hand to explore (and break) boundaries.

3. The Market Culture:

This value system is based on the ups and downs of market forces and competition. The leaders tend to breathe down the necks of subordinates, anxious for quick success.

4. The Hierarchy Culture:

This model is based on structure and control. Companies with this culture usually have a detailed organogram defining each member’s contribution and role within the organisation. Here, no one is left unsure  as to his or her place.

Regardless of size and structure there are some organisational values that find (or should find) application in every organisation – here they are:

1. Commitment:

Although all companies require this from their staff, some are more successful are getting it than others. They want to be sure that their employees have the organisation at heart, and are willing to passionately give their very best on their role.

2. Community:

A willingness to demonstrate social responsibility to the host environment.

3. Balance:

A core value aimed at generating a healthy work-life balance for an organisation’s staff. At the end of the day, this comes back to benefit the organisation. Happy staff, successful organisation.

4. Accountability:

This is the quality of being liable and responsible for decisions made and actions taken, both personally and on behalf of the organisational. It is closely related to openness and honesty.

5. Vision:

These are the ideals and dreams that drove the formation of the particular company originally, for example, meeting a need, saving waste, generating income, creating a safer environment. Organisations want to be sure that everyone is looking towards and and working in the same direction – that of the overall vision.

6. Safety:

Organisations need to ensure the health and safety of their staff, their customers and environment in which they operate.

There are two important reasons for organisations to have their own set of values. First, the values championed by an organisation can serve as a distinguishing mark to clients. Second, value systems serves as remarkable decision making guides for situations that fall outside the existing rules.

A clear understanding of what an organisation holds sacred will most definitely steer the actions, decisions and thought processes of its staff – and ultimately the success of the company.


  1. Google Business Dictionary: What are organizational values?
  2. Leila Norman, What is organizational value statement? , accessed on http://smallbusiness.chron.com/organizational-value-statement-23848.html
  3. Company Core Values: Why To Have Them and How To Define Them, accessed on https://7geese.com/benefits-of-having-core-values-and-how-to-set-them-in-your-organization/
  4. Four Types of organizational culture, accessed on https://popinnow.com/four-types-organizational-culture/


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