Thought LeadershipProviding a published document that states the organization’s values is a common business practice for many companies. This values document, in turn, should lead to strategies that help establish a culture that lives and delivers these values. Many times, employee safety is a stated value.  

I think many of us have experienced stated safety values that are not strongly practiced or enforced in the real, front-line operations culture.

There are some companies I have worked with that professed ‘zero harm,’ had great safety policies and procedures, but lived a noticeably flawed production culture at the work face. Then, there are other organizations that talk about how important front-line safety is but have no mention of safety in their values statement. Consequently, they seem to have a weaker safety reality where their employees are most at risk.

The values statements are intended to influence upper level management on issues such as communication and decision-making that drives the delivery of the values across the whole organization. These typically come into play on a regular basis, but should also play a noticeable role in difficult decisions. When push comes to shove, tough circumstances need to be guided by values instead of what is expedient. It sometimes seems like these higher risk events cave into the pressures of operational demands when the going gets tough.

What variables make it hard to deliver and comply with the stated values in your organization? How do these values influence your corporate strategies? Can you describe a time when the ideals/beliefs/values were disregarded to maintain team unanimity? How did the situation ultimately turn out? How has this affected both your organization’s and your own personal realities? How will such an event affect you and your actions in the future?