Monday, 30 May 2011

Business Values - do they really exist?

Values are what drive all our behaviours and are our unconscious motivators and de-motivators. Understanding them more, therefore, helps us to explore changes that may need to take place in order for progress to be made towards our goals. What values aren’t - are things we decide or even choose to have ie they’re not conscious they’re unconscious.

The challenge is can we translate personal values into business values? I know many organisations have published values statements but I wonder can we really suggest the current values statements used by most organisations are the same or even similar to our personal and unconscious values? And therefore should we be even calling them such? I’d suggest not - for a number of reasons:

• When eliciting personal values we start with an individual’s behaviour to understand the value(s) driving that behaviour. Business values seem to work the other way round and simply become aspirational choices rather than something that reflects or explains current actions.

• Personal values cover ALL our actions. Many business values seem to concentrate on the ‘softer’ aspirational values and forget about the ‘harder’ values that inform for example the strategic direction, profitability or pricing choices made.

• Even if people have the same core value, what behaviours they judge to be acceptable or unacceptable will differ greatly. Why else, for example, are there numerous linkedin group discussions exploring what integrity or honesty mean. Business values statements are therefore useless without a statement of behaviour to identify what the values looks like for that organisation.

• Because they’re our personal values it’s automatic for us to behave in ways that support them. Unless our values are aligned with an organisation’s it’s likely we may find taking on its values and associated behaviours difficult. If they’re in conflict with our own even more so. I certainly don’t see much evidence of values based alignment in interviews or restructuring when new or updated values statements are published.

• Making any changes to our personal values and/or their hierarchy (ie their relationship to each other) is not easy. Yet organisations’ management teams seem to be able to find it easy to issue a values statement and assume it’ll work.

Which all means I’d much prefer we found a different term for all those business values statements.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Can you be faithless and therefore trustworthy?

An article in Supply Management told us to 'Sacrifice yourself rather than your principles' and had me thinking about my favourite topic of authenticity and the implications of being authentic in the workplace.

I'll share other thoughts over the coming weeks but wanted to start with this.....

There's a wonderful quote in The Invitation that asks...

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true;
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself;
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul;
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

It's a quote I often share with clients and yet it's the one that some find they are unable, or should I say unwilling, to embrace.

During our day to day activities we work with other people, we rest with other people and we play with other people. It's during all this activity that we make promises - whether explicitly stated or implied e.g.

* I will do this or that for you
* I will support you
* I will be there for you
* I do believe in you etc

Sometimes these promises are very easy to keep. Sometimes we know we shouldn't be making the promise from the start, other times it just becomes harder for us to keep and other times the promise is no longer valid for the person we have become.

The issue is what do we do when the promise is one we know we can longer keep, when we know that it's no longer supporting us? In these instances many stick to the promises they have made even though it's slowly eroding at who they are and may even be making them ill.

In the Invitation the author shares "I suddenly realised that the people in my life you are the most trustworthy, are not those who always keep their agreements with me. Those who can be faithless - who can bear the responsibility or breaking an agreement with someone when the alternative is to betray themselves - are trustworthy."

Can you bare the accusation of betrayal to be true to yourself today?

Monday, 9 May 2011

Sometime you have to let them bang their head - over and over

Yesterday a friend and I came out of the house and there was a bee banging repeatedly against the window trying to get out only a few inches away from an open door. My friend went to help it out and I stopped her - I stopped her because it was a pattern we'd been discussing about helping people.

Humans can be just like the bee. We can keep doing the same thing and if someone helps (forces?) us to change we may initially fly through the door but often sooner or later we’ll be back again. Back banging our head against the window until we decide we want to stop doing what we’ve always done to do something different. The person who can see the open door has a choice to stay and encourage them or fly through the door? If they stay they may find they get stuck there, lose interest in leaving or even start banging their head too. If they go through the door they may be followed or may not.

Of course bees aren't human so perhaps we could have helped the bee?

Your habits are contagious - so are theirs

It's often been said if you want to be wealthy to hang around with the wealthy and certainly stop spending time with those who aren't. Having spent a day with Dr David Hamilton at the weekend I realise that’s also true for all our:

Habits – health, relationships, team working, communication, performance
Emotions – happiness, fear, anger, depression
And yes even yawns!

That is these are all catching – we can get infected by others and of course we do our fair share of infecting too. So if you have goals you want to achieve you’d best check that the habits and emotions of those around you, up to 3 degrees of separation, would be useful to you. Although the closer you are to someone the more likely you are to get infected!

David has just released his new book ‘The contagious power of thinking’. The main premise of the book, supported by lots of research and science, is that we’re hard wired to copy others! The mirror neurons in our brain pick up on what others are doing and want to copy them. So if someone smiles at you your mirror neurons will subtly copy that smile and there’s very little you can do about it. Just as there’re very little you can do when someone passes a frown, anger of fear your way – not instantly anyway.
This can have a significant impact in organisations as one study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology showed where for each one point increase in a retail manager’s job satisfaction there was 5 percent increase in customer spending. Other studies including from Harvard support the findings about the ‘contagious power of thinking’.
Who are you infecting and is it helping?