HRINZ Conference 2005 Working Through Values Working Through Values  

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Concurrent Workshops

Day Two – Thursday 15 September

2.15pm to 3.45pm

Master Class #1

Bob Morton    

Organisational Culture and Values: a source of competitive advantage

Bob Morton and Martin Thompson

Successful organisations are characterised by individuals at all levels across an organisation sharing strong values and a strong guiding vision. Together the vision and values underpin the organisation’s culture, which in turn drive appropriate behaviour in everyday tasks.

The CIPD has conducted research over a number of years into people and performance and produced a seminal report Understanding the People and Performance Link: unlocking the black box which identified a number of issues as being particularly important to the relationship between how people are managed and business performance.

The research found that it’s important for organisations to create the kind of environment or culture where the positive managerial behaviours of listening, coaching, guiding, involving and problem solving are actively encouraged and reinforced. This is where HR policy is critical as it reflects and reinforces organisational values and culture especially through development processes.

Many of the companies studied focus on a ‘Big Idea’ or a few key words that simply express what the purpose or values of the organisation are, how the organisation works and what it’s like to work there. But the research shows that a ‘Big Idea’ on its own is not enough. To build commitment, and drive improved performance the purpose and values it need to be:

  • Embedded and understood across the organisation
  • Integrated into relationships between stakeholders
  • Enduring, built around on a legacy of past success
  • Habitual, with behaviours repeated, collective and routine.

The research also clearly shows a link between strong, shared values and high commitment. Where strongly shared values can be demonstrated people are more likely to be satisfied, displaying higher levels of organisational involvement, lower quit rates, greater customer satisfaction and lower levels of dissent or dissatisfaction over levels of pay.

Organisational culture can be defined as a system of shared values and beliefs; what is important, what behaviours are appropriate, internal and external. The culture determines the ‘organisational feel’.

Values and consequently cultures are unique to an organisation, widely shared and reflected in daily practice, relevant to the company purpose and strategy and above all, its people: therefore there can be no single best culture, one size does not fit all.

This master class will demonstrate the outcomes of the CIPD’s research in practice and takes as its basis a current OD intervention in Ciba Specialty Chemicals that aims to create high performance by embedding Social, Corporate, and Personal Values.

Bob Morton will set the overall scene and position the OD activity in the context of harnessing Organisational Culture and Values as a source of competitive advantage using the framework of the CIPD’s latest research on People and Performance.

Martin Thompson will then take the participants through the practicalities: developing the concept, obtaining management buy–in, generating commitment throughout the organisation, realising change and eventually achieving the desired competitive advantage* (not forgetting meeting short term business needs!).

*This is a live intervention: it was initiated in April 2004 and continues. Bob and Martin hope that the progress achieved over in the last 12 months will continue and they will have positive results to discuss in September!

Bob Morton commenced his personnel career as a graduate trainee with the Lewis’s Retail Group in the UK. He joined Ciba–Geigy in 1973 with The Clayton Aniline Company, where he progressed to hold a number of senior personnel posts. He transferred to Ciba – Geigy’s UK Group HQ in the late 1980’s and in 1995 transferred to Ciba’s Corporate HQ in the USA, as Director of Human Resources until the merger with Sandoz which formed Novartis. Ciba Specialty Chemicals was de–merged from Novartis in 1997 and in the same year he moved to Switzerland as Head of Human Resources for Ciba’s Global Performance Polymers Business. In 1999 he returned to be based in the UK where he is now Head of HRD for the Northern Europe Region of Ciba and he is also a practice leader for Ciba's global People Development competence centre.

He has worked in most parts of the world in all areas of Human Resources from Employee Relations through to Organisational Development. His special interests centre on large scale organisational change, managing across cultures and business performance management.

He is a visiting speaker on International HRM on the Executive and full time MBA programmes at Lancaster University Management School and at UMIST in the UK and speaks regularly at CIPD conferences. He is also a regular speaker at International HR conferences and in 2000 he was a keynote speaker at the United Nation’s inaugural HR conference in Geneva.

He edited and co – authored with Professor Pat Joynt a book on International HRM, ‘The Global HR Manager’, which was published by CIPD in October 1999.

Bob is a Companion of the CIPD and is past Vice President International of the CIPD. He is a member of the editorial board of ‘People Management’ and sits on the board of CIPD Enterprises. He is currently Chair of the CIPD’s International Forum.

Martin Thompson has spent most of his working life improving the business performance of his customers by working their people to help them make the most of their potential.

Initially he trained as an Experimental Psychologist (he has an MA from Cambridge University, a Diploma in Personnel management and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). Martin's first real job was in production with Cadbury Schweppes. This was followed by experience in industrial engineering, training and sales before he moved into a training role in JH Fenner, an engineering company, and then an HR role in the distribution industry.

As he became more experienced Martin became involved with outdoor training but was always concerned with its inherent difficulties (time, safety, transfer of learning etc.). Consequently when he became an independent consultant in 1982 he focussed almost exclusively on the indoors but tried to develop activities in which people would become emotionally involved. The scenario for Landslide, the first of these activities to be published, drew in part on experiences and insights he gained whilst driving people on adventure holidays by truck from London to Kathmandu!

As the founder of MTa International Martin is perhaps best known for his practical leadership and teamwork training materials based on the MTa KIT, but he still spends most of his time consulting, facilitating and mentoring. He is particularly interested in helping:

  • individuals make the most of their potential and the potential of their colleagues (this usually involves understanding and developing appropriate attitudes as well as skills and knowledge)
  • organisations capitalise on the diversity of skills and knowledge offered by reorganisation, mergers and acquisitions
  • senior executives through 1:1 coaching or mentoring.

Much of what Martin does falls under the umbrellas of leadership, team skills, team development and organisational change, but his work is often much wider and deeper than this categorisation would suggest: Making effective use of personal learning is always high on Martin's agenda.

Martin has worked at both senior and junior levels with a wide range of organisations in Europe, North America and India. Most are household names or multinationals. They include: AgrEvo, CIS (insurance), Ciba Specialty Chemicals, GlaxoSmithKline, IMG, Inland Revenue, Nokia, Powergen and Riley.

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