Managing People Using The Value Immersion Process
How It Works

HOW IT WORKS

People will do their best when their work-place environment is characterized by a set of positive informal values.

In the book “Value Immersion for Maximum Employee Performance:  a Framework for Getting the Best From Your People” I have repeatedly said that I know how to create an environment where you get the best from people, and that this book is about how to do it.

The basic premise is that if one can create a work place environment where people feel good about:  where they work, what they do, and the people they work with, they will give their best to the organization.  How can such an environment be created?

I have mentioned the answer in passing:  create and immerse your people in a work-place environment characterized, or defined, by a set of positive values.  Properly defined and implemented this set of values will bring people together, give them a sense of security, instill mutual acceptance and respect for each other, facilitate their success, give them a reason to want to be at work, let them know that there is real caring for their well being and much more.  In short this environment creates happiness for them.


WHAT KIND OF VALUES

Actually, every organization is permeated with values.  In many ways, for example, you could say the formal set of “policies and procedures” that no doubt occupy a non-negligible amount of shelf space in your office are a codification of your organization’s values. They are basically the rules that purport to govern people’s behavior. These are not the values I am talking about here.  What I am talking about are those values that are unwritten, but that really set the tone for how people relate to one another.

The dictionary definition of “values” is:  

“...ideals, customs, institutions, etc. that arouse an emotional response for or against them in a given society or a given person.”

My definition as used herein is:

“The emotional and behavioral ideals that define the organizations culture.”

“The customs of the culture that are manifest in the feelings they stimulate in people about their organization, management, their peers, and themselves.”

“That set of commonly accepted behavior expectations that define how managers act toward their employees, how employees act toward their managers, and how employees act toward each other.”

WHY FOCUS ON VALUES

Values are that set of ideals which guide manager’s decisions as they affect the well being of their employees.  They represent the customary way of perceiving situations that occur in an organization.  They create a context in which actions by managers or employees are determined and evaluated.  They arouse in people an emotional response for or against their organization, management, peers, and/or themselves.  The nature of the values in an organization determines whether or not employees care about the success of their organization.  In turn the set of values that exist in an organization affect the moral, productivity, and quality of the output employees produce.

WHAT ARE INFORMAL VALUES   
 
When I was in graduate school one of the first lessons in my Organization Development (OD) class had to do with the “formal organization” and the “informal organization” that exist in essentially all organizations (sorry for the redundancy).

The values codified in the formal policies and procedures are like the formal organization. The formal organization is what you might call the organization chart or, as we called it at Scripps, the wiring diagram.  Typically this is a pyramid shaped set of boxes starting with the big, big boss at the top followed by the several big bosses that report to him, with each of them having a set of bosses reporting to them who each have several assistant bosses reporting to them who each have a set of supervisors reporting to them, followed by the day to day workers below the supervisors.  It is what you see in the annual report.

But, few organizations actually work like the formal organization chart says they do.  For example, I spent essentially my entire career working in the University of California.  Each campus had an “organization chart” having the pyramid shaped structure with the chancellor at the top and the faculty at the bottom.  However, in reality one could simply turn that organization chart upside down and it would describe how the university really worked – namely that “the faculty rule”, and the Chancellor and all of us administrators served at the pleasure of the faculty and did what they wanted – they are the bosses.  That is the “informal organization” of the university.  

Essentially all organizations function primarily according to the informal organization.  In some cases real leaders, who may not be the big, big boss, or one of the big bosses, in reality call the shots.  Or despite the pyramid, the organization runs like a democracy, or the organization is really run by the unions, who aren’t even shown on the organization chart, or any other permutation you might imagine.

The value system I am talking about is like the informal organization.  I call them the informal values of the organization.  An informal system of values exists in all organizations.  Too often, however, these informal values occur “…willie – nillie…” evolving with no systematic guidance.   As a result they may create a positive work environment where people are motivated to do their best or create a negative environment where people are just “doing their time” and do not give their best or some combination of the two.  My whole thesis is based on the observation that these informal values are most important in determining how much your employees are willing to give to you and your organization.  It is by deliberately and thoughtfully defining and managing a specific set of informal values that it is possible to create an environment where people not only give their best, but are happy for doing so.

WHAT ARE THE POSITIVE VALUES THAT WORK

After years of trial and error, I believe that the set of values presented in this book combine to provide the context where people are motivated to give their best.  When they are integrated in a comprehensive way into your organization they create an environment where people feel good about their jobs, the place they work, the people they work with, and their managers.  The idea is to give them a real sense of belonging to a larger family where they know how they fit in and are recognized and accepted for who they are.  A sense of pride in the work they do, the work their peers do, and the organization they work for will creates feelings of reward and stimulate loyalty.  They need to be made to feel safe from retribution for honest mistakes, and safe from other employees who might threaten their security.  It is important that employees know that management is caring for them and sincerely has their best interests at heart.  Management must let people know they support the concept that their people’s whole life, work life and home life, is important and cannot be separated.  If people are treated with honesty as professionals who are given the freedom to organize and handle their jobs in the best way they can, they will perform as professionals.  If people can find pleasure, enjoyment, and fun in their work life they will want to come to work.   And, if they believe that they have a future in your organization, they will want to stay on.

It is clearly not possible to legislate and codify a body of rules that create the kind positive value based work place environment that will achieve these goals.  It is, however, possible to create and immerse people in a culture characterized by informal positive values.  I have observed in my own organizations and other successful organizations that when these elements combine, people will naturally, spontaneously, and happily do their best, and when they do their best, all of the feelings above will be reinforced.  It simply requires that the set of informal values in the organization be managed so as to extinguish negative values and maximize those that are positive

So that’s how it works:  employees will give their best when a set of positive values is integrated into your work place environment that creates a culture where people can self actualize by being part of a safe, rewarding, and supportive community.

In the book you will find the specific set of values I have identified that, when taken together, make up the informal value system which has been found to work best.  Throughout the descriptions of each value information about how that value should be implemented is provided.  Then there is a whole chapter in section four that talks about implementation in an overall sense.
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