When Company Values Backfire
The main point of the case study is that company values, even if they are of the noblest intentions but if are not properly communicated and discussed to employees, can prove to be disastrous to the company.
Maverick has, in theory, a good set of company values. Employees loved working there because of those values. The tragic flaw in this case is that these values are only contained on a piece of paper. Perhaps the employees read these from the vision-mission statement or the company manual. They were never detailedly discussed to the employees. Hence, the interpretation of these values was left to the employees alone. As a result, the values were subjected to different interpretations of the individual employee and were not solidified according to what the company meant them to be. The solidification of what these values meant was made, really, during employee discussions on what they think the company wants to set up as its values. In the case of Maverick, this proved fatal because the interpretation of the employees was different from that sought to be set up by the company.
Here, the employees themselves judged whether the CEO’s actions were according to company values or not. When it did not fall according to company values according to their own interpretation, they label the company leader as a hypocrite who does not walk his talk, when in fact, the assertion of the employees is wrong. As a result of this seeming hypocrisy on the part of the company leadership naturally caused company morale to go down.
The moral of the story is that company values, as well as company policies, must be thoroughly discussed by management with the employees. Management should initiate such kind of discussions because employees are not likely to volunteer their opinions about company values and policies. Their feedbacks should be solicited so that any possible confusions and disagreements that may arise can already be addressed even before it rears its ugly head. Waiting for an actual controversy to arise before taking action will only make the company look like it is justifying its violations of its own policies. And this will only worsen the situation.
The most obvious solution for the kind of problem as the one presented in the case of Maverick is, as suggested also by the authors of the case study, is for management to initiate discussions with the employees about the values and policies of the company. Management must ask for employee feedback on how the company is faring and how they feel about the proposed changes being presented by the company leadership.
The discussion must also address the proper interpretation of company values into as much detail as possible. Employees should be encouraged to raise questions and points of arguments about such company values and policies. Management must also properly communicate what the company values mean and what it does not. Everything should be put in black or white as much as possible. The atmosphere in the company should be one that promotes open communication lines and honesty when it comes to the core values and principles on which the company stands.