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Friday, 05 April 2013 04:28

The Employee Perspective, Part I: Core values have changed

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Most of the time on this blog, we talk about change management from the perspective of the organization:  How to more effectively manage the various moving parts of change so that the organization sees the maximum return on their change efforts.

However, I was recently asked for my advice on change management from the perspective of an individual employee.  Whether they are in the midst of an official 'change initiative' or not, organizations are never static; they're always evolving and adapting to changing market conditions, competitive environments, or economic factors.  So in many ways, change is a constant from an employee perspective.

In Part I of our Employee Perspective on change, we discuss what happens when an employee finds the core values of an organization have changed.

Q:  When I joined the company, I found their core values aligned with my own.  However, lately I've noticed that just isn't true for me any longer.  I'm reluctant to make a big move at the moment, given the economy.  Is there a way I can stay with the company, or should I resign myself to finding a new job?


  1. First, look at the specifics of your situation.  Is it really true to say that your values and those of the organization don't align any more, or are there specific issues which are concerning you?

    For example, you may not appreciate that the company's stance on 'lifetime employment for all' has changed in the 15 years since you joined, but that's true for almost all organizations these days.  At the same time, the company's commitment to ethical working conditions and supporting community organizations (two values which are also important to you) are still intact.

    It's worthwhile to take a few minutes to clearly articulate - in writing! - where your values and those of the organization align, and where they diverge.  You may discover you're actually more aligned than you think.
  2. Do a level check with like-minded employees.  For example, if 'quality' was a highly-prized value when you first joined the company, but now seems to have gone by the wayside in pursuit of shareholder value, find out how other employees at your level are coping with the apparent disconnect.  

    You may find that some of your co-workers are continuing to work as though quality is still a highly important value, and that may give you the confidence to do the same.  On the other hand, you may find that they aren't experiencing pressure to forego quality, and that the difficulty is actually more to do with a specific manager in your department, not the whole organization.

    Remember, it's not unusual for a company to temporarily lose its way during a difficult time, but if enough employees continue to operate to high standards, the organization as a whole may find its way back over time.  Even individual employees have the power to make the difference in the organizational culture.
  3. Create an exit strategy.  You may find that, as you look at specifics and examine the company as a whole, there are some values on which you simply can't compromise, such as ethical business practices.  If you find those values have changed, you may still need to consider leaving.  But don't resign in a huff, or spend a lot of time griping to co-workers about 'the good old days'.  Make a plan, and give yourself the time and space you need to find the right kind of work in a company that aligns with your values.

    You'll feel better knowing you have a plan and that your employment will have an end date - even if it is 6-12 months in the future.


NEXT:  The Employee Perspective, Part II:  This isn't the job I was hired for

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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