The Importance of Values and Values Management in Advising Administration and Leadership

Jeffrey L. McClellan
Frostburg State University

Volume: 11
Article first published online: October 14, 2009
DOI: 10.26209/MJ1161530

Keywords: advising, academic advising, adviser, advisor, values, values management, advising administration, advising leadership


According to Rucci (1997), “companies that have excelled over the past twenty years and longer are those with strong cultures, grounded in a common understanding of a few, simple, shared beliefs,” and these “shared beliefs need not be formal, moralistic statements of values and ethics but rather a simple, shared understanding of what the enterprise views as inviolable principles” (p. 202).

Shared beliefs regarding what an “enterprise views as inviolable principles” are reflected in an institution's values and are just as essential within the nonprofit world of higher education as they are within the for-profit business arena (Rucci, 1997, p. 202). As a result, nearly all of today's major organizations in business and education have an officially espoused set of values, which are typically delineated in a formal corporate values statement. However, few of these organizations truly understand the role of values in relation to the process of leadership and administration. Furthermore, while mission statements tend to cascade downward into the organization, such that virtually all departments draft and pursue missions that reflect their roles within the larger institutional mission, few values statements cascade to this level. Consequently, within the world of academic advising, it is not often that one finds an advising office with a clearly articulated values statement. I am convinced that it is important to address this deficiency because of the unique role of advisers and the unique nature of the values conflicts that advisers and advising administrators experience in relation to their work within colleges and universities. In this article, I will discuss these unique challenges and describe what values are within this context, how they benefit organizations generally and advising offices specifically, as well as how advising administrators can develop and use a cohesive set of values to guide their work.

Values in Advising

In a workshop for new advisers, my colleagues and I asked participants to identify a time when they received great advising from someone else. In response, these newly hired professional advisers identified and discussed times when a teacher, adviser, peer, or some other mentor truly impacted their lives and provided them with valued assistance and support. When asked to identify what it was that most contributed to the quality of the experience, nearly all of the participants referred to characteristics or behaviors of the “adviser” that implied caring and concern for them as people and skills applied toward serving them personally. Such attitudes and behaviors reflect a set of values that guide the advising process and set it apart from the other functions performed by professionals within higher education. This is not to suggest that faculty and administrators do not reflect such values, but rather that there is a uniqueness to the values that guide “great” advisers, whether they be faculty or full-time professional advisers.

Based on the values survey that we have used in these workshops, the values that advisers identified as guiding them in their work tended to place a higher than normal emphasis on other-oriented service, caring and compassion, student learning and growth, and personal relationships. While this has not been done in a systematic research-oriented way, the consistency of the responses across the many workshops we have conducted is uncanny, especially when compared to the less congruent results acquired by using the same values tool in workshops and classrooms with students and leaders more generally. Furthermore, the existence of literature in relation to advising that focuses on relationships (Kirk-Kuwaye & Libarios, 2003), friendship (Rawlins & Rawlins, 2005), and the importance of caring (Ford & Ford, 1989; Holmes, 2004; McClellan, 2007) suggest a strong values orientation that is unique to the one-on-one student-adviser relationship.

This perhaps explains why, in spite of conceptual and practical concerns, as well as limited administrative support (Gordon, 1994; Hemwell & Trachte, 1999; Laff, 1994; Lowenstein, 1999), developmental advising and the counseling paradigm have retained such a stronghold on the advising profession. The developmental approach, with its growth-oriented, other-focused, counseling methodology, may simply resonate more with the personal values of a large percentage of academic advisers.

Another explanation that may have some validity is the suggestion that unlike the traditionally masculine-based realms of administration and instruction in higher education, academic advising possesses a more feminine values orientation that aligns with an ethic of care, thus resulting in the values orientation identified previously (Noddings, 2003).

Furthermore, it appears that the values-oriented approach of advisers, at least to some extent, appeals to students. In their study regarding what students want in advising, Mottarella, Fritzche, and Cerabino (2004) found that “students value warmth and depth in advising relationships” (p. 58) whether or not the approach is developmental in nature. Thus activating this unique set of advising values, regardless of the specific approach taken by the adviser, may result in the kind of reciprocity-based caring advocated by the care ethicists (Noddings, 2003; Tronto, 1993).

Regardless of the origin and nature of this unique values orientation, I am convinced that there are two key reasons for its existence that also suggest the need for more of an emphasis on values management. First, academic advisers play a unique role in the higher education community that is inherently imbued with increased values conflicts and, second, the process of advising is characterized by a student-oriented one-on-one relationship that is likewise unique within the realms of higher education.

The history of higher education can, at least to some extent, be seen as a power conflict between the desires and needs of students and the will and power of the faculty. This was perhaps most evident in the student riots of the sixties, but the competing interests of these two powers are evident in early professor-centered versus student-dominated models for higher education (Altbach, 1999; Lucas, 1994). According to Frost (2000), the differing interests of faculty and students have at times created a context in which “faculty came to consider it inappropriate to speak to students on a personal basis, and students considered it inappropriate to approach faculty” (p. 7). Add to this the conflicting interests of the administrative structure, which is focused on the business-oriented viability of the institution and the accountability demands of legislatures and the public (Berdahl & McConnell, 1999; Birnbaum, 1998; Zusman, 1999), and the ever increasing bureaucracy of higher education and a context emerges wherein it is necessary to create a mediating/guiding role that provides for the needs of students that are not satisfactorily or naturally met within the competing interests of these groups. It might be argued that this is exactly what advising was created to do, whether by formalizing such a role for faculty or through the provision of full-time professional advising.

Within this context, it is not surprising that the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA, 2009) put forward a values statement that, instead of focusing on what advisers should value, emphasizes the groups to which advisers bear responsibility. Included among these groups are the institution, higher education in general, the educational community, advisers as persons, and those they advise, as well as those they involve in the process. As NACADA recognized in that statement, this naturally creates tension when values conflict. Thus the document suggested “advisers will find some Core Values more applicable or valuable to their situations than others. Advisers should consider each Core Value with regard to their own values and those of their institutions” ((NACADA, 2009, ¶5). The challenges associated with balancing these responsibilities within the conflict-laden environment of higher education results in many ethical dilemmas for advisers as they determine how best to serve the students for whom they care and whom they have been charged to serve. Advisers must have a strong values system in order to navigate these turbulent waters. Fortunately, many of them do, however the challenges associated with this can be overwhelming for advisers if administrators do not support them through effective values management.

The second element that drives this unique values structure is the one-to-one relationship of advising (Nutt, 2000). According to many care ethicists, the demands to care and opportunities and responsibilities to engage in caregiving increase based on the relational proximity of the one caring to the one cared for. Thus as Nodding (2003) suggested, “I care deeply for those in my inner circles and more lightly for those farther removed from my personal life” (p. 16). Slote (2007) suggested that this tendency to increase in caring as a result of proximity might actually be grounded in empathy. The existence of emotional contagion and the universal nature of certain emotions suggest that this is likely (Ekman, 2007; Goleman, 1995; Goleman, Boyatzis, & Mckee, 2002). The existence of mirror neurons and the resulting tendency individuals have to identify, through neurological conveyance of experience, with those with whom they most often associate likewise lend credence to this idea (Nash, 2007; Sipe & Frick, 2009). Consequently, those who engage in one-to-one relationships with students are more likely to identify with and care for them at a different level and in a different way than those who do not do so on a regular basis. Even though the choice of such a role is likely based on values consistent with that role, which are then reinforced through the interaction process, it seems evident that the unique values of advisers as a profession likely result from, or at least are amplified to some extent by, this interpersonal dynamic.

Regardless of the source of the unique values orientation of advisers, a couple of items seem evident from this discussion. First, values play an important role in the work of academic advising and, second, academic advising frequently involves the need to resolve ethical dilemmas based on situations wherein conflict arises among the values related to the constituencies to whom advisers hold responsibility. Given this reality, it seems advising administrators need to understand what values are and how to manage them within the workplace to improve the quality of academic advising.

Defining Values

According to Brian Smith (1994), “The word value comes from the French verb valoir, meaning 'to be worth.' Gradually it evolved an association with valor or worthiness” (p. 302). Moreover, the American Heritage Concise Dictionary (1994) defines a value as “a principle standard or quality considered worthwhile or desirable” (p. 887). On an individual level, values represent the emotional barometer against which we measure the worth of our lives. Goleman et al. (2002) explained “our guiding values are represented in the brain as a hierarchy of emotionally toned thoughts, with what we 'like' and find compelling at the top, and what we loathe at the bottom” (p. 41). Thus in any given situation, we measure the appropriateness and meaning of any action based on where it fits in this values hierarchy (Thompson, 2000). At the same time we also apply our cognitive processes to the reordering and rethinking of these values through the process of rationalization and cognitive restructuring. Through this process, we make judgments about what values will take precedence within specific situations or ethical “moments” (Offstein, 2006). In some cases these judgments are recognized as ethical, whereas in others they are not. This likely depends upon the extent to which our final decision aligns with our emotional hierarchy of values, resulting in a feeling that what we did was wrong or right (when making ethical self-evaluations), or demonstrates congruence with the norms of the social groups in which we are participating (when receiving ethical evaluations from others).

In organizational terms, values represent “deeply held views of what we [as members of the organization] find worthwhile” (Roberts, 1994, p. 209). In other words, they represent the emotional and rational values hierarchies that individuals commonly hold because they need to work together to meet individual and group needs. Rarely do these group values align perfectly with individual values hierarchies; however, they are easily rationalized out of need or desire to interact with others and when the lack of alignment is small and related to lower order values incongruence. There are, of course, other ways in which internal values can collide with shared values. One of these relates to the difference between espoused and active values.

It is commonly suggested that two kinds of values exist. As Charlotte Roberts (1994) explained, “As with all mental models, there's a distinction between our 'espoused' values—which we profess to believe in—and our 'values in action,' which actually guide our behavior” (p. 209).

The first set of values is known as espoused values. These “values describe how we intend to operate, on a day-by-day basis, as we pursue our vision” (Smith, 1994, p. 302). These are typically delineated in a corporate values statement and often accepted by many members of the organization. Unfortunately, however, they are not always observed on a company-wide basis. As Edgar Schein (1992) explains, espoused values are those that “predict well enough what people will say in a variety of situations but which may be out of line with what they will actually do in situations where those values should, in fact, be operating” (p. 21). Hence, whereas espoused values are supposed to govern the organization's actions, they often do not, which begs the question: If the espoused values are not driving activities, what values are? The answer is active values.

Active values are values that have been “coded into our brains at such a fundamental level that we can't easily see them. We rarely bring them to the surface or question them” (Roberts, 1994, p. 209). They are the underlying assumptions that drive our behavior. One way of identifying such values, as explained by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg (1996), can be determined by examining “two things: your check book and your calendar,” because “how you spend your money and how you spend your time tells us a lot about what you value” (p. 147). While we often espouse values that are idealistic in nature, when the situation is such that we have to dedicate scarce resources to taking action (time and money, for example), our active values emerge intuitively or through the rationalization process. Thus an organization that claims to value people as “the most valuable resource” may respond to economic difficulties with a layoff-first mentality simply because its leaders' active values view employees as a cost more than an asset. In contrast, a company that values people as an active value is less likely to eliminate positions as a first resort or in a haphazard way.

As a result of the differences between individual values, both espoused and active, and organizational active and espoused values, and the balancing of the emotional hierarchy and the rationalization process, a large amount of incongruence and negative conflict can and does occur unless individuals bring these processes out into the open and emphasize creating alignment and congruence through transparent collaborative value management, thereby insuring organizational integrity. Before addressing the process by which this may be accomplished, it is valuable to examine the purpose of values in organizations.

The Purpose of Organizational Values

Organizational values serve three major purposes. Values are a fountain of youth, the seedbed of culture, and an organizational measuring stick.

Values act as a fountain of youth because of their ability to foster trust, creativity, and enjoyment. The ability to trust, to be imaginative, and to simply enjoy life represents three of the most obvious and enviable attributes of children. Unfortunately, they are rare and perhaps even diminishing in many employees (Bellingham, 2003; Seligman, 2002). This is particularly true when individuals find themselves in work environments characterized by a history of fear-based authoritarian management. Likewise, the alteration of the psychological contract that has predominated in America also may have contributed (Thorne, Ferrell, & Ferrell, 2008). In contrast, in organizations that establish congruence within their value system and possess values designed to support trusting relationships, employees feel safer and are freer to innovate while knowing that failure is acceptable and support is available. As Dutton and Heaphy (2003) declared, “Organizations function better when members know, trust, and feel positively towards one another” (p. 60). Hence trust, creativity, and enjoyment return to the workplace when values are clearly articulated (The President, 1995).

The second role of a solid values structure within an organization is that of a seedbed of culture. Edgar Schein (1992) asserts that culture exists at three levels within an organization. As one progresses to the deeper levels, the culture becomes more apparent. The levels identified by Schein (1992) are artifacts, espoused values, and basic underlying assumptions. Artifacts include “all the phenomena that one sees, hears, and feels when one encounters a new group.” (Schein, 1992, p. 17) These represent the surface level of culture. While some aspects of culture can be identified at this level, their main purpose in well-managed organizations is merely to solidify deeper cultural characteristics.

The second and third levels are espoused values and basic underlying assumptions. In theory, they are identical to the two kinds of values. Espoused values are values that the organization verbally accepts, whereas basic underlying assumptions are active values, which the organization internalizes and may or may not recognize (Schein, 1992). Examining these deeper levels is the only way to discover the true nature of an organization's culture. Hence, values are the very heart of culture. Organizations desiring to control and direct their cultures must learn to recognize and understand all three levels. Then they must ensure that the message presented at each level is congruent with the other levels.

Finally, values act as a measuring stick against which organizations can evaluate the wisdom of pursuing an intended course of action. Warren Wilhelm (1996), the vice president of corporate education at Allied Signal Inc., explained that:

As the pace of change in our world continues to accelerate, strong basic values become increasingly necessary to guide leadership behavior. Such values act as social constructs. They allow leaders to make decisions about the direction in which to lead and how to proceed. Without values, otherwise effective leadership can be grossly destructive socially. (p. 223)

Steven Covey (1989) also keyed in on the importance of values in personal strategic decision making and proactivity:

The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of a proactive person [or an organization]. Reactive people [and organizations] are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people [and organizations] are driven by values.

Proactive people [and organizations] are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response. (p. 72)

As Wilhelm and Covey explained, organizations (and individuals) with a solid values base are able to be more proactive and strategic in their decision making. They are capable of envisioning how successful an idea or plan may be simply by determining how well it aligns with the mission and values of the organization within the current organizational environment. Thus values play a critical role in fostering creativity and a strong, coherent culture and ensuring effective, ethical decision making that promotes long-term viability insofar as individuals and organizations manage them effectively.

Values Management

Socrates reportedly said, “The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.” Such is the case with organizations. Charlotte Roberts (1994) explains,

As literature and spiritual guides warn us repeatedly, individuals should beware of the temptation to let their values slip when times get tough. Organizations should doubly beware. If your company values honesty, that means it should show employees the books—even when the books are embarrassing. (p. 209)

As is evident, values are at the heart of all ethical decision making. When values receive due consideration amid moral conundrums, ensuing decisions are more likely viewed as ethical. Thus the purpose of articulating values is to ensure that when decisions are made, they are consistent with the organization's espoused values. The key to achieving such alignment is to first define in depth the organization's values; then leaders must carefully evaluate the outcome and impact of the organization's policies, processes, and procedures on its stakeholders—especially the employees—to ascertain what they perceive the organization's values are. This helps leaders understand the gap that exists between espoused values and active values. Once they understand this gap, advising administrators can then close the gap by process analysis and by implementing improvements that increase alignment. The following discussion addresses how to engage in these steps.

Defining Organizational Espoused Values

Conventional wisdom suggests that organizational values statements, like mission statements, should be cascaded through an institution, thereby ensuring alignment. Thus executive leaders develop such statements, with differing levels of involvement by other stakeholders, and then dictate these to or obtain buy-in from those down the hierarchical ladder. This obviously makes sense in theory; however, while it is technically legitimate for an executive team to determine the mission of an organization, it is ridiculous, if not unethical, for them to attempt to dictate a person's values. This is particularly the case for complex institutions where values statements are often negotiated (and sometimes political) documents designed to meet the needs of multiple conflicting constituencies. That is not to say that leaders do not have a right to expect employees to embrace certain values as a result of their participation within an organization, but to believe that leaders can dictate these values and ensure their full integration as an overriding personal values hierarchy is misguided at best, tyrannical at worst. Thus, while the institution's or, in this case, the university or college's values represent an important force influencing individual and departmental values statements and values-based behaviors, there are other factors that contribute to the definition of a department's values.

In addition to considering a university's institutional values, advising administrators also need to consider the unique value needs of the departments they lead by examining and understanding the values of the various stakeholders associated with the department. Thus advising administrators could ask themselves what their employees value in relation to what they do as an office, what the students value, what parents value, what the other offices with which they are most closely aligned value, and how these values differ even when they appear to be the same.

In order to identify these different values, administrators may wish to bring together members from these groups and ask what values they see as important in relation to the work of advising. This is typically most effectively done by first working separately with individual groups to discover the unique values that are important to them as a group. These values focus groups could involve questions such as:

In addition to posing such questions in group discussions, administrators can also request written responses to these questions or can administer values surveys such as the one provided in The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (Roberts, 1994).

Once this information has been collected, an administrator would be wise to gather his or her own staff and discuss these different perspectives on values, address what causes stakeholders to feel valued, and determine how the results align with staff members' personal values and the values of the organization plus determine the overall importance of these values (Bellingham, 2003). Kegan and Lahey (2001) referred to this process as fostering “the language of public agreement” (p. 103). They advocated engaging people in conversations about how they wish to “be” in relation to one another as a means of creating a community of shared values, which becomes self-reinforcing, positive, and integrity building as opposed to creating externally imposed, reified polices and values statements that focus on punitive responses to violations.

As such agreements begin to emerge, the conversation should move toward drafting a document that clearly articulates the values that everyone agrees need to be both espoused and activated within the department. Clear statements should be drafted regarding not only the value but also how it can be demonstrated to the stakeholders. Meeting times are not, however, best spent drafting such a document. Committees can generate ideas well but cannot write effectively. This task should fall to an accomplished writer who can then incorporate feedback from others as the document evolves.

As the document emerges, discussions should focus on situations in which the values may conflict. One way to address the issue of values conflicts is to openly discuss and rank the stated values in order of priority amid conflicts. For example, in some settings, providing honest information to students may be seen as more important than saving face for the institution, if the two are seen as conflicting with no possible reconciliation. Establishing such rankings and committing to them as a group eliminates uncertainty when values conflicts arise and helps to avoid retribution from departmental leaders or criticism from other advisers if a stakeholder expresses concerns about how a situation was handled. Rankings also ensure that different advisers deal consistently with such situations when they arise. This helps to eliminate the “but someone else said or did something different” that so often occurs in advising offices.

Simply, the clearer that advisers and advising administrators can present the values they share in relation to their various constituencies and the more congruent the order of importance these values are, the more effective advisers can be in their day-to-day work and interrelationships when conflicts arise. It cannot be emphasized enough, however, that this process must involve sincere and unforced dialogue among members of the group to ensure actual agreement regarding values rather than mere buy-in.

Once leaders have clearly articulated the values, they should seek feedback from stakeholders to verify that the organization is meeting their needs and interests as much as is possible and reasonable. Additional conversations may be necessary to respond to this feedback until stakeholders agree on a final document. Administrators should be careful not to dismiss too quickly what they regard as unreasonable feedback. Instead, they should look for ways to incorporate any feedback in some way or another. When this is not possible, they should offer explanations to the relevant constituencies as to why this is the case, such as why a parent cannot be given information without permission from his or her son or daughter. This ensures that stakeholders at least feel that leaders have heard and valued their feedback even if the organization cannot fully implement all input.

Having obtained feedback and revised the document, administrators can move on to the process of identifying perceived active values. It should be noted, however, that documents such as this should be “living” documents that are open to change and renegotiation based upon the emergence of new issues or concerns that merit such consideration.

Identifying Perceived Active Values

Once they have clearly articulated espoused values, administrators should then begin the process of identifying gaps between espoused values and active values. This could be accomplished through focus groups, interviews, and/or surveys designed to solicit responses focused on identifying times when the department and its personnel engaged with their constituencies in ways that honor their espoused values and times when they engaged in ways that do not (Bellingham, 2003). This likely will result in specific and significant suggestions regarding behavior-based improvements. Leaders should, of course, address any consistent gaps through transparent discussion of the concern within the department if the issue is not isolated to a specific employee. If, however, this is the case, careful and sensitive coaching of that employee is likely the best way to proceed.

At the same time, some feedback may simply represent anomalies. While administrators may need to overlook some of these anomalies, they should carefully examine them to verify that they are indeed anomalies. In addition, it may be valuable to symbolically address the expressed concern in some way to ensure that the individual who expressed it feels leaders have taken his or her suggestion seriously and have addressed it so as to avoid similar challenges in the future. This should be accomplished, however, in such a way that does not create a perception among advising staff that the concern is overly seriously. Thus a carefully worded response to the individual may be sufficient.

The key throughout this process is to focus on identifying and changing specific behaviors that consistently reflect dissonance between espoused and active values, while at the same time reinforcing behaviors that reflect congruence. This positive reinforcement is likely as important as, if not more important than, correction, given the importance of positive emotion and the connection between appreciation and leadership and organizational success (Bagozzi, 2003; Cooperrider, 2003; Emmons, 2003; Goleman et al., 2002; Johnson & Leavitt, 2001). As Goleman et al. explained, “Emphasis on gaps often arouses the right prefrontal cortex; that is, feelings of anxiety and defensiveness. Once defensiveness sets in, it typically demotivates rather than motivates, thereby interrupting, even stopping, self-directed learning and the likelihood of change” (p. 137). Therefore, to whatever extent possible, leaders should balance reinforcement with correction and even lean toward reinforcement. In so doing, administrators are able to reinforce and ensure that our actions (how we spend our time and money) reflect the values we espouse.

Improving Alignment

The final key to developing a strong values-oriented advising office is the ongoing maintenance and improvement of value congruence. In order to achieve this, administrators must pay close attention to values-oriented decision making by ensuring that decisions are made in such a way that the results demonstrate consistency with espoused values. This can only be accomplished by intentionally adding a values-oriented element to the decision-making process, wherein those involved in decision making intentionally discuss and explore how proposed strategic options align with or create incongruence with the espoused and active values of the group.

Inserting this type of conversation into the evaluation stage that typically follows brainstorming in decision-making models is a good way to accomplish this end (Robbins, DeCenzo, & Moon, 2008; Schein, 1998; Senge, 1990). In such conversations, administrators can reevaluate decisions that suggest some form of incongruence to determine whether to bring them into alignment, without significant negative rationalization, or drop them altogether.

Another means by which administrators can consistently analyze and maintain value congruence is through ongoing values assessment. In a manner consistent with the focus-group and survey processes suggested above, administrators can regularly conduct value audits. These also serve to reinforce values and values-oriented decision making, as well as to strengthen the departmental and organizational culture.

Administrators can also manage values through the hiring and training of new employees (Bellingham, 2003). New employees cannot be forced to espouse and activate values; thus, carefully designing the hiring process and the adviser training process to involve screening for and reinforcing values affiliated with those espoused and activated within the department is critical to effective values management. Behavioral interviewing helps by focusing on scenarios that bring values-oriented decision making to the surface and addressing the values people hold and how they demonstrate them. Training that includes storytelling, values assessments, and panel discussions on the importance and content of the values documents can help to reinforce the values effective hires already espouse. In addition, supervisors should engage in values-oriented coaching or incorporate mentoring programs in the first few months to help advisers work through early values conflicts and challenges.

Finally, the best way that administrators can support and maintain values congruence is through their own personal congruence (Bellingham, 2003). Two of the most significantly valued characteristics and most important elements of great leadership are honesty and integrity (Kouzes & Posner, 1995; Northouse, 2004; Offstein, 2006; Zenger & Folkman, 2002). As Zenger and Folkman (2002) wrote,

Personal character is the core of all leadership effectiveness. ... With a strong personal character the leader is never afraid to be open and transparent. In fact, the more people can see the inside, the more highly regarded the leader will be. Without that personal character, on the other hand, leaders are forever in danger of being discovered. They are like a Hollywood set that from one side looks attractive, but after walking around it, the illusion is dispelled and the hollowness is obvious. (p. 13)

When a leader reveals such a lack of value commitment, the employees' commitment to values wanes and the culture becomes tainted with cynicism, conflict, and distrust. Thus administrators must commit to and engage in behaviors that are consistent with set values if they wish their employees to do the same.

Key Values Consideration

Once individual and organizational hypocrisy significantly decreases and congruence improves, the organization will benefit appreciably as long as the values it espouses are productive. Thus throughout the process of developing and managing organizational values, administrators should take into consideration the connection between values and performance as discussed in best-practice literature on the subject. For example, in his research regarding best practices, Jac Fitz-Enz (1997) found that:

Best practice is not a surface program, process, or policy. It is something more basic. Best practice is best described as: An enduring commitment to a set of basic beliefs, traits, and operating stratagems. These are the constant context of the organization: the deriving forces that distinguish it from all others. (p. 219)

The “basic beliefs, traits, and operating stratagems” he mentions are identified through his research as the “eight best human management practices” (Fitz-Enz, 1997, p. 221). Fitz-Enz identifies eight practices that represent a solid value base for any organization:

When an organization espouses these values and they actively become the foundation of all unit policies, procedures, processes, and practices, then success tends to follow. Once again, however, it is only insofar as such values are actively espoused through personal integration into one's own values hierarchy that they become part of one's values orientation and thereby become personal active values.


In conclusion, values based upon solid principles, following alignment within an organization, are a major source of strategic advantage because of their positive impact on culture, their contribution to strategic decision making, and their ability to foster creativity, trust, and enjoyment. As a result, it is absolutely critical that advising administrators understand the importance of values and values management in relation to their work and the work of those they lead, actively develop a system of shared values, and strive to maintain congruence between espoused and active values through their own behavior and intentional values maintenance processes. As they do so, advising administrators will find that the culture of their offices will become more cohesive, conflicts will diminish, morale will improve, and performance and productivity will increase. Values management is truly an important aspect of effective advising administration and it must not be overlooked.


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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey L. McClellan is an assistant professor and academic adviser at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He can be reached at