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02 May 2024

Learning in and from the value process: Part 2: The central role of managers

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The further development of these ideas from part 1 leads to a more in-depth consideration of the responsibility of managers in the value process.

Leadership is not just about optimizing work processes and guiding employees - in this context, it is primarily about living, communicating and "translating" corporate values. Managers are faced with the challenging task of not only communicating values, but also embodying them authentically, relating them to the strategy and making them visible in everyone's daily actions.

Managers connect: Old and new, strategy and employees

This is particularly true when it comes to introducing new values that may challenge existing norms and practices. It is slowly becoming clear what concrete impact the new values will have on future interaction and behavior. If more "strategy orientation" is one of the new values, it may become apparent which departments may have a particularly strong need for development in this area. 
If "performance orientation" is to be a future focus of values, many employees could find their previous performance behavior questioned - even though this has not been taken into account at all to date and "low performance" has never been sanctioned in the past.
In such times of transformation, managers are the link between the theoretical redefinition of values and their practical implementation in day-to-day business. 
This is particularly true when, in the process of realignment and development towards the values, there is uncertainty about "what do these new values mean for the actual work and cooperation?"

Reflection on one's own behavior and role as a starting point

Their role as role models becomes essential, as employees are strongly guided by the example set by their superiors. This includes how openly and committed managers deal with these issues - including potential concerns and conflicts.
The effective implementation of values therefore requires a high degree of self-reflection on the part of managers and the ability to respond to the dynamic demands of changing values. They must recognize when it is necessary to (self-)critically question existing behaviours and adapt them if necessary. In addition, their tasks include actively promoting dialog about (new) values within the company and supporting a culture of openness, even if this means perhaps having to deal with their own part in the "uncomfortable" aspects of the corporate culture.

Translating values so that values work

Ideally, managers should approach the implementation and introduction of values together with their team right from the start! This is primarily done in 3 steps: 

  1. Joint clarification: How do we understand the new values? How do they contribute to the strategic direction of our company or division
  2. How do we translate these values into concrete behavior in our team?
  3. Do we need to adapt processes or structures in our area so that they take account of the new values or do not run counter to them?

Introduction process as a rapprochement process

The challenge and at the same time the great opportunity for managers is to see the values process as a continuous learning and development journey that enriches and advances not only the company as a whole, but also themselves as individuals and as a group. Their exemplary leadership in this process is decisive in determining whether the new corporate values exist only on paper or become alive and effective. It is therefore their outstanding responsibility to not only implement the values "once", but to make them a central, perceptible, intentional and effective component of the corporate culture and an important lever for strategy implementation.

Pro tip: Check together with your employees twice a year to see where they are already doing really well in relation to the values. This focus on what has already been achieved gives a really positive boost in the right direction!

Über den Autor

Thomas Huber. Versteht, dass sich Menschen, Teams und Unternehmen nur gemeinsam entwickeln und entsprechend systemisch ist seine Beratung. Mit Genuss und Neugier hat er eine ziemliche Expertise in allen drei Feldern entwickelt. Neben Strategieentwicklung, Changeprozessen und Teamentwicklung ist die Künstliche Intelligenz in all ihren Anwendungsformen sein Steckenpferd - nicht nur in der Strategieberatung.

Good Leadership starts here.