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Espoused values are the core morals and values of an organization. They are essentially the beliefs upon which the company is built, developed into a code of conduct. These values serve as sort of blueprint for the manner in which the organization conducts business. As espoused values will typically be very closely aligned with the mission of the organization, they tend to be fairly easy for employees to adopt.
The primary purpose of espoused values is to create a company-wide standard for behavior. This is to ensure that employees follow the company line, rather than their own value systems, when making decisions. The values function as a continuous preventative measure against undesirable behavior.
These values form the foundation for organizational culture. Once these norms are communicated to employees, they may build upon these beliefs, but they will typically adhere to the spirit of those values. The goal is to have an established culture which guides employees as, if not more, effectively than specifically outlined regulations.
In order to be of maximum effectiveness, a company will typically need to use multiple methods in order to properly educate its employees as to its espoused values. Many companies have created a document with the values, in order to ensure that they are clearly understood. It is also helpful to build organizational rules and regulations around those values, so that employee compliance will support the core beliefs.
One of the most powerful ways to instill espoused values in employees is to demonstrate those traits on a daily basis. This is typically the responsibility of executives, managers, and supervisors, who model behavior for their staff. New employees can learn these values explicitly through company literature and indirectly through exposure to other employees. This is why it is often beneficial to give new employees the chance to assimilate personally with coworkers so that they can get a feel for the culture of the organization.
It can also be beneficial to provide regular reminders of the various values of the organization. This can include specific advertising, such as with posters around the office or articles in the company newsletter. It can also be promoted via special events, such as lectures or seminars that promote and nurture espoused values. In order to encourage the development of a culture based on these beliefs, it is usually advisable to make these promotional efforts a regular part of company strategy.
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