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  • Kick Ass Zombie Hunter

Forget About Company Values

Arrows in different colours all pointing in one direction with one pointing in the opposite direction

Companies spend a lot of time on their values. Defining them through value sessions with management and employees. Communicating them. Displaying them on their website, walls, and literature. And educating new hires during onboarding.

It’s not surprising. Our values are the beliefs that are supposed to guide and motivate our attitudes, actions, and behaviours. They act as north stars and decision-making tools.

But I’d like you to forget about your values for a moment and tell me about your norms.

Norms are the (often unspoken) shared rules or standards of how people should be or do things in the group. Norms most of us know are saying “thank you” for favours or holding the door open for someone.

In an organization, values are what we decide are important to us. Norms are the expectations of actual behaviour.

We may say we value excellence, but if employees are constantly overwhelmed with work, the norm may be to cut corners and do just the basics to keep up with the workload.

We may say we value innovation, but the norm may be for people to hide failures or mistakes if leaders are known to punish them.

We can define values all we want, but if the company’s norms don’t align with them, then they will be lip service only. Ignored by employees at the best of times. And, at the worst, leaving them frustrated and disheartened.

But when we create a culture where values and norms do align, that’s when the magic happens.



Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.

  1. What are norms in your workplace that align with your values?

  2. Are there norms in your workplace that are in direct conflict with your values?

  3. What can you do as a team/organization to ensure your norms align with your values?


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