Why is there often such a gulf between company values and what employees actually experience?
Being clear on your values as a company is important and well documented, but a mismatch between what is written on the wall and what goes on in the corridors is actively harmful.
In Edgar Schein’s brilliant book Humble Inquiry, he says:
“When we compare… behaviors that we observe with some of the values that we are told about, we find inconsistencies, which tell us that there is a deeper level to culture, one that includes what we can think of as tacit assumptions. Such assumptions may have been values at one time, but, by consensus, they have come to be taken for granted and dropped out of conscious debate. It is these assumptions that really drive the manifest behavioral elements and are, therefore, the essence of a culture”
And gives a pointed example
“The most common example of this in the United States is that we claim to value teamwork and talk about it all the time, but the artifacts—our promotional systems and rewards systems—are entirely individualistic.”
So before memorializing your values, make sure you know what they actually are.