Balancing Competing Values: A New Approach to Management

Balancing Competing Values: A New Approach to Management Leadership and Management

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The Competing Values Framework is a tool for understanding organizational culture and behavior. It has broad applications in leadership, structure, and information processing.

Understanding the Competing Values Framework in Business

The Competing Values Framework (CVF) is a popular theory that identifies the behaviors and beliefs that contribute to organizational success. It emerged from research on the essential indicators of effective organizations, and it focuses on two key dimensions: internal focus and flexibility versus structure.

While these competing values seem to send conflicting messages, they are necessary for a business’s overall health. For example, a company that is internally focused must also have a flexible and dynamic culture in order to achieve its goals. If it doesn’t, it will find itself stuck in a cycle of stagnation and decline.

To understand the competing values framework, think about your own organization and how it functions. If you run a business with a clan culture, for instance, the focus may be on teamwork, respect, personal development and mentoring. In contrast, adhocracy cultures thrive on innovation, creativity and risk-taking. A market-driven business such as Amazon embodies the qualities of this cultural type.

By completing a CVF assessment, you can pinpoint the exact cultural traits your organization has and identify any areas for change. You can then create a strategy that aligns with these cultural strengths while challenging any aspects of the culture that aren’t as positive. This will help you keep your people and your business running smoothly, even in the face of conflicting values. It will also ensure that your people are staying engaged, which is a crucial aspect of organizational value-based management. The best way to do this is by conducting a CVF survey, based on the Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI), to learn more about your organization’s competitive values. This survey can provide insight into your leadership styles, decision-making processes and employee engagement levels.

Creating a values-based management system requires leaders to take into account organizational cultural variables when creating and implementing change. This will increase the chances of success for the entire organization. Often, failed organizational change initiatives can be traced back to the lack of consideration for addressing the cultural context and challenges. Using tools like the Competing Values Framework can help to identify the challenges and to develop strategies for overcoming them.

One of the most difficult challenges involves balancing competing values. For example, a company may need to prioritize innovation over quality control, which can be difficult to manage because innovation is often risky and can cause delays in production.

This is where leadership becomes especially important. Leaders must be able to articulate the core values of the company and seek to inspire them in others. They need to create systems that reinforce and reward values-based behavior. This is especially critical during times of transition. Having a clear set of values to lean on will help leaders navigate difficult times and decisions and can also serve as a guide for new employees as they begin to work with the organization.

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Another key challenge is finding a way to balance short-term financial results with long-term shareholder value. This is an ongoing struggle for many companies because of the need to satisfy capricious markets and pressure to meet quarterly earnings targets. However, a company that can balance these two competing goals will be better positioned to achieve sustainable and profitable growth.

A good example of a successful balance of values-based leadership and performance measurement is Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. He is a tech-savvy businessman who has a strong belief in giving back to the community and is an outspoken advocate of evidence-based decision making. He has been able to combine these two approaches and create a highly effective business model that is a true force for good in the world.

The Impact of Competing Values on Decision Making

The competitive values framework offers a map for navigating leadership styles and organizational structures, recognizing the inherent contradictions at work in management. As such, it can help leaders make informed decisions that align with their company’s strategic goals.

Quinn and Rohrbaugh’s model is based on research into the major characteristics that contribute to effective organizations. Their study suggests that a company’s culture may vary along two dimensions – internal focus and external structure. They categorized companies by their value sets and found some groups were more successful than others based on their emphasis on specific values.

For example, a business that is internally focused might emphasize efficiency and control. This type of culture might struggle with change and be less able to adapt quickly. By contrast, a business that is externally focused might value innovation and flexibility and embrace new ideas and opportunities. This type of culture might be better suited to changing the marketplace, but would be slow in responding to customer needs or finding ways to keep employees happy.

Other companies fall somewhere in between. They might have an efficient internal process but are flexible enough to quickly respond to changes in the market or pursue new opportunities. However, they also might be too flexible and unable to control their business processes and risk losing sight of their core business.

Using the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), you can assess your business’s prevailing culture against the competing values framework quadrants to understand its strengths and weaknesses. Then you can take steps to address these gaps and move your business in the right direction. Contact me to learn more about how the OCAI assessment and the Competing Values Framework can help you keep your team or your business competitive and growing.

Integrating Diverse Values for Organizational Success

Diversity encompasses many different types of differences in people and their experiences. It includes differences such as cultural background, gender identity, different education levels, physical abilities and attributes, religious values and beliefs, social class, language skills, and many other variables. Diversity and inclusion work in organizations must be grounded in a commitment to appreciating these differences and helping everyone feel included. This requires a deep understanding of how the organizational culture operates and how these differences impact decision making, particularly during times of compromise or stress.

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Managers must be aware of their own leadership styles, preferences and lens and understand the impacts they have on the organization’s culture and performance. This helps them make the best decisions for the organization during difficult times and avoid missteps that can jeopardize a values-driven culture.

In addition to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, the organization should integrate its diversity goals into everyday business practices. This could include providing special accommodations for dietary restrictions (such as a refrigerator dedicated to Kosher food) or offering flexible holiday scheduling for employees who wish to celebrate religious holidays at other times of the year.

Diversity is a critical component of success. Managing this concept is challenging because it involves the careful balance of two opposing scales: flexibility and stability on the one hand, and individuality and inclusion on the other. It’s important to understand this tension and recognize that sometimes both values will conflict with each other, but that is not necessarily a flaw in the model. In fact, the most effective organizations demonstrate a balanced approach to these conflicting values, recognizing that each value has its own unique advantages.

Confronting the Challenge: When Personal Values Clash

When the values we choose to uphold as individuals are at odds with one another, it can be extremely frustrating. For example, if you value integrity and respect for others, it may be difficult to tolerate colleagues who gossip or are rude. This type of personal conflict may be a sign that you need to make some changes in your relationships or in how you operate at work.

The key to navigating these types of conflicts is to recognize that there will always be trade-offs when it comes to prioritizing values and goals. The best thing to do is take time to reflect on your own values and how they align with your job and life. Then, be proactive about identifying areas where your personal values are at odds with each other. For example, if you value success and healthiness, but are working long hours in your business, you might need to invest in hiring additional help to increase efficiency or reduce your workload.

One way to make this process easier is to practice communicating your personal values in a non-confrontational way. Try to validate the other person’s values and interests when you interact with them. For instance, if your colleague is struggling to balance career goals with attending their child’s soccer game, you could say, “I understand that this is an important priority for you and I would love to hear more about how you are trying to manage the competing demands in your life.”

As you identify areas of conflict in your own values, be sure to also consider the conflicting values within your organization. For example, if the company’s stated values of integrity and respect for employees are not being reflected in the management style of top leadership, it may be time to address this with a higher level leader.

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