Shared Values and Common Goals

iStock_000020421537XSmallHow do leaders create #WorkPlaceInspiration? Why should leaders care?

Leaders are charged with getting things done through others. Most organizations carefully monitor output – production, quality, sales, market share, profits, deadlines, etc. They create dashboards to measure how well actual output compares with expected (or promised) output.

If output standards are met, some leaders recognize that effort. Some don’t. Monitoring continues, ad nauseum.

Output is an important metric; organizations must be disciplined about delivering high quality products and services to generate revenue. AND, making output the exclusive metric drives undesirable consequences.

It, at minimum, can create practices where employees are treated like “cogs in a wheel” as opposed to valued contributors. It can create an “I win, you lose” dynamic among team members. Employees may spot problems but choose not to solve them because “that’s not their job.”

At the extreme, undesirable consequences can include abusive leader behaviors which lead to sabotage, “retiring on the job,” etc.

These undesirable consequences cost time and money. These hard dollar costs erode company success.

Most organizations do not monitor #WorkPlaceInspiration, the degree of human enthusiasm for the work and the application of discretionary energy by staff to the work.

When one looks at companies that are highly regarded for both performance and employee well-being (for example, the Fortune 2013 Best Companies to Work For list), two common foundational practices stand out: they have shared values and common goals across the organization.

Common goals align efforts and skill application to desired results. Add shared values – alignment to formalized values expectations that define citizenship standards – and remarkable things happen to the folks who work there.

Employees show up fully. They feel trusted and respected. They take calculated risks that solve problems and move the organization forward.

Employees care – and it’s demonstrated daily, in every plan, decision, action, and interaction.

The benefits – hard dollar gains – of #WorkPlaceInspiration are impressive:

  • Leaders doing what they say they will do and demonstrating espoused values inspire employees to apply discretionary energy in service of company and to customers. Hard dollar gains? For one hotel chain, $250,000 for every 1/4 point gain on a 10 point scale. (from Dr. Tony Simons’ Integrity Dividend)
  • A 2006 Gallup study of over 23,000 business units found that units in the top 25% of engagement scores generated 12% higher productivity than units in the bottom 25% of engagement scores.
  • In a 2005 DDI study, a Fortune 100 manufacturing company reduced quality errors from 5,658 parts per million to 52 parts per million.
  • A 2008 Kenexa study of 64 organizations found that companies with highly engaged employees achieve twice the annual net income of companies whose employees are less than highly engaged.

(Thanks to the talented Kevin Kruse for sharing the last three of these impressive studies.)

To what extent does your team have shared values and common goals? Does your boss pay attention to employee engagement? What have you noticed about the engagement of employees you work with? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

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  • Joe Scherrer

    Could engagement be new “best practice” for free market capitalism?

    Pretty compelling post Chris…

    • The benefits of employee engagement and Work Place Inspiration are too powerful to ignore! Thanks, Joe – best to you!



  • FergusonValues

    Great piece, Chris. Nice to see a focus on shared values.

    I find many companies (including some of the Fortune 100 best companies to work for) still either state too many values or define them too vaguely. When corporate values are unclear – or too many to remember – then employees take their cue from the behavior of their leader(s). This means an effective leader can still obtain good results, but it’s rarely sustainable over time, especially with a change in leadership.

    However, if company leaders have the capability to clearly define common goals, then they should be able to clearly define their top three values. Just like setting goals, the challenge is in the selection of values and determining which ones are top priority. Those that define a few clear values tend to have sustainable success over their competitors.

    • Thanks for your insights, Robert! I’m right with you – clarifying values AND goals, then holding all accountable for both, really separates GREAT companies from OK companies.

      Best to you –



      S. Chris Edmonds  MacBook Air & iMac

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