Values related to interactions between people, to the contributions of people and generally to deeply held beliefs about the worth of people in the organisation. There were differences between the companies in regard to the explicit elaboration of values; elaboration being most common where there was a strong corporate approach to the management of people. In all cases, however, it was apparent that respect for people, their potential and contribution was high and, more importantly, was reflected in the practices and policies relating to people. The companies saw people in terms of what they could contribute and their potential rather than as costs. This in turn reinforced the idea of investing in people and their development.
Values, it could be observed, developed in a number of different ways. In one company in the electronics industry, for instance, the founders had left an existing company because they found decision making based on position power and bureaucracy stifling. The outcome was that they founded a company based on the value that "knowledge drives a company". This value in turn gave rise to practices where the contributions of all people were seen as important, and where people were given opportunities to challenge decisions and be widely informed about plans, progress and opportunities for development. The same company also had also adopted a meritocratic approach and went to considerable lengths to recognise and reward performance and contribution.
In another case a company needed to move from a situation of close hierarchical supervision to one of greater flexibility and involvement of employees. Thus, the Chief Executive, the management and the Trade Union concerned, set out to develop values based on mutual trust and respect.
Practices and Procedures:
Human Resource practices and procedures are the visible expression of values: many companies espouse a set of values but fail to live up to them in practice paying lip service to them with consequent problems in areas of respect and credibility. Examination of practices and procedures, therefore, are frequently a better indicator of the extent to which values are lived rather than what people say are their values.
The IPC and the Labour Relations Commission frequently come across companies which fail to see the usefulness of articulating a company?s mission or reason for existing, saying that "we tried that and it didn?t work". What has invariably happened is that they have simply steered clear of making change in practice to correspond to the aspirations expressed.
There were of course differences within companies in the practices and procedures they put in place. There were also differences on the extent to which companies elaborated and explicitly integrated business objectives, values, and practices as will be seen further on when we discuss existing practices and procedures. Overall, however, companies tried to be consistent in respect of objectives, values and HR practices and sought feedback in different ways to check out whether or not they were being consistent.
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