Making Values A Habit
Throughout my recruitment career, values have often come up in conversation, both from the perspective of the employer and the potential employee. In most recruitment processes, both sides are keen to ensure their values are understood and aligned for the success of the future working relationship. Post hiring decision, I have been fascinated by how organisational values play out in the daily business rhythm. It seems that there is sometimes a divide between the creation of organisational values and how they come to life. Unfortunately, all too often, it seems that values can be attractive sounding words on an office wall,
“…silent and watchful eyes to the behaviour they see unfolding before them.”
I have recently experienced, first-hand, how a set of organisational values can be so much more than attractive wall art. Through the process of setting-up Talent Effect with Lisa Canning, we have both seen how a set of resonant and heartfelt values can help a business to navigate, grow and thrive. Seeing an academic theory actually make sense in the real world, is a light-bulb moment worth sharing.
STORY-TELLING AS A METHOD OF DEFINING COMPANY VALUES
When we started Talent Effect, Lisa and I dug deep to define our Vision, Mission and Values. How we arrived at our Vision and Mission is an interesting story, for another day. We decided on our values after an afternoon of sitting around my dining room table (with many cups of tea in-hand) and telling each other some stories. These were the war stories from our many years in recruitment. These were the experiences that touched a nerve, touched our hearts, made us scream, laugh, cheer and cry. After each story, we would take a moment to discuss the values that were guiding us through each situation. We asked each other,
“Why did we handle that situation that way?”
The powerful effect of the story-telling process was evident when, at the end of the afternoon, we reflected on a long list of values scribbled down on a big sheet of paper. Even more powerful was the realisation that several values were in much higher frequency than others. The data was telling us something and this beautiful logic then helped us to determine Talent Effect’s values set:
We keep things simple.
We take responsibility.
MAKING VALUES A HABIT
Because Talent Effect’s values were born from a grounded and personal process, they no longer felt like mere words to us.
Rather, our values became our way.
We habitually deferred to our values at decision-making junctures so that they were then woven into the foundations of the business. Here are some examples of how this played out:
Website design. We had so many layout and feature options available and we had to make some early design choices. To help us with this, we used Simplicity to guide our choice. We asked ourselves which design would be the simplest and easiest for our viewers to navigate with the least opportunity for complexity to obstruct our core messages. The right decision was then easy.
Business operations. Early on, we needed to decide how the key operational accountabilities for Talent Effect were going to be divided between us. To guide us, Responsibility came into play as we agreed on which of our strengths would be best suited to each task. Now, there is never a question of whether something will get done because we understand the significance of our responsibilities to the success of our business.
Straight shooting. We use our Care for each other almost daily in the honest way we discuss things. At the outset, we agreed that because we care about each other, we need to give each other feedback, with no sugar coating. This level of candour is the only way we will evolve as a partnership. Every time that is a slight hesitation from one of us in sharing our point of view, we remember that having the bravery to be straight-forward comes from a place of Care.
Every time organisational values are used to guide decision-making and to navigate challenging situations; more life is breathed into them. However, this will not happen by itself. It needs to be a conscious choice and a habit that extends beyond the words on the wall and the performance review cycle. When company values stem from the hearts, minds and experiences of the people that maketh the organisation, they are far more likely to become more than just watchful eyes on a wall.
I encourage everyone and every organisation to make a habit of their values. It’s more than academic.