ISPI’s Award of Excellence Program honors outstanding student and professional research. This award recognizes outstanding research in the field of human performance technology or a related field such as adult education, human technology, behavioral psychology, or vocational education. Nancy P. Askins, PhD, CMQ/OE, of Capella University, will receive an Award of Excellence for Outstanding Student Research for her dissertation Core Values Implementation by Mid-Level Managers of a Faith-Based Healthcare System. She will receive the award at THE Performance Improvement Conference, in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, April 15, 2013.

Mid-Level Managers and their Implication on Performance
Mid-level managers can fulfill a vital role in advancing organizational performance and excellence by operationally achieving or exceeding strategic goals and directions. Senior leaders usually create core values as foundational stimuli for mission integration and strategic planning, and mid-level managers are often charged with implementing those core values in the workplace. Because performance can be measured via accomplishments, a deeper understanding of how mid-level managers behaviorally deploy core values among the workforce can enhance the understanding of how to make those mid-level managers even more effective at what they do.

The purpose of Askins’ theory-building case study was to explore, identify, and categorize workplace behaviors of mid-level managers in implementing organizational core values. Askins conducted research at an award-winning, faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system employing over 8,000 associates in a northeastern state in the United States. Twenty mid-level managers participated in the study, each one actively committed to routinely deploying core values on the job. Data sources included documentation reviews and personal interviews using a researcher-designed, customized card-sorting method of choosing and prioritizing behaviors.

What Influences Performance?
Triangulated results were divided into multiple tables of over 40 research-validated behaviors and categorized themes, all positive examples of core values implementation, with narrative advice for others on deploying core values. Examples of the highest ranking major themes and preferred behaviors featured consciously deciding to include and routinely implement core values in daily behaviors at work, augmented by incorporating core values and related behaviors in performance appraisals, job descriptions, hiring, employee recognition and rewards, organizational culture, leading by example, team-building, problem-solving, creativity, implementing change, and more.

A new organizational core values perspective and acronym were derived from the findings, the Askins Core VALUES Paradigm, also graphically displayed as Askins Core VALUES Implementation Model. This paradigm and model included six significant implications of the findings, proposing multiple interrelationships among implementing core values and the six components of validation, accountability, linkage, understanding, excellence, and synergy. The study also contained numerous behavioral examples potentially transferable to multiple industries and organizational settings, and myriad recommendations for further study on core values and mission integration.

Askins’ dissertation committee  included Charlotte Redden, PhD, faculty mentor and committee chair; Pamela Robinson, PhD, committee member, School of Education; and Linda Terry, PhD, committee member, School of Business.