Core, Situational, and Operational Values

August 28 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway

Most large corporations understand the importance of shaping culture by prioritizing the creation of desired beliefs, behaviors, and values. Organizations' most common approach is to develop and communicate the values important to shape business decisions. These are often referred to as core values. But how core are they? Magnifying glass on the word value.

Whether true or not, beliefs are how we see the world and what we experience. Behaviors are what someone does, says, how they say it, the words they use, their body language, and their work product. They are observable acts. Values are principles or the standards we set for desired behavior and what we judge as important.

I frequently encounter three types of company values during my work with clients:
  • Core — what the organization judges as important and you find listed along the organization's mission and vision
  • Situational — what an employee experiences when the core values are demonstrated, but often this is the exception, not the rule
  • Operational — what people most commonly experience while conducting their work

Consider the values employees experience within your company. Which ones are core, situational, and operational?

"When you know something to be true in your very core, there is no need to shout it from the rooftops." — Basetsana Kumalo

"Leaders, companies or individuals guided by situational values do whatever the situation will allow, no matter the wider interests of their communities." — Dov Seidman

"The question is not, do you have conflicts? The real question is, are you aware of your conflicts?" — Abhijit Naskar

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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