Tag: employee engagement services

Alignment and Sustainability

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments and a way of keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our SERVICEBRAND perspective is on organizational sustainability but, ultimately, the sustainability of all organizations is dependent on the sustainability of our planet, and we wholeheartedly support the urgently needed overdue efforts in this area.

Due to the vast scope and nature of the subject, there is no universally agreed definition on what sustainability means. Every nation, business, organisation, and individual has a different idea on what it is and how it can be achieved. Sustainability is not a new concept, with many indigenous peoples across the world having long histories of living in balance with their land and ecosystems. But the idea of global sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the World’s first Earth Summit in 1992.

The original definition of sustainable development is usually considered to be: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Organizational sustainability

A lot has changed since that first summit, there have been many variations and extensions on this basic definition. Business sustainability may therefore be described as cohesively managing and integrating the financial, social, and environmental facets of the business to meet the needs of the present without compromising future performance. It is about creating ‘long-term’ value for all stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, service partner organizations, local communities… and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

When taking a closer look at organisational sustainability, it often looks at two key areas sustainability practices have the greatest impact on. These being the effect on society and the effect on the environment.

The best outcome of a sustainable business strategy is to make a positive impact in both of these areas, by producing a product or service that is of benefit to society, while not negatively impacting the environment.

Often organisations will prioritise societal convenience over protecting or limiting their impact on the environment, and because of this, show no care or attention to either of these areas, while also failing to take responsibility for the damage they cause. It is because of this kind of behaviour that we find ourselves facing the challenges of deforestation, baron soil, water poverty, social injustices, and famine, to name a few.

Alignment

Societal and environmental stability don’t always have to be at odds with financial gains, there is space for them to align and provide the best possible outcome for the organisation and for the people and spaces it affects. This is what is known as a shared value opportunity. When you align your organisation with social and environmental needs, you will be able to drive positive financial outcomes with positive deeds. The more consistent and sustainable you are, the more likely customers and service users are to engage with you, and most importantly, stay with you.

Convenience has long dominated business focus because it works for short term profitability. But it is not good for the long-term goals of anyone involved. It can be harrowing to shift your organisational strategy away from a convenience led, fast profit model. But the long-term benefits far out way the short-term losses.

How to begin?

Realignment takes time and can seem overwhelming, but it will make a huge difference to the organisation’s future. Becoming a sustainable organisation requires being open to considering factors that previously hadn’t been a priority. How your decisions will affect the environment, the economy and social issues should always be considered when developing effective strategies. When you understand your impacts, it helps prevent the pile up of longer-term liabilities or crisis’s.

Thanks to dedicated climate and social scientists, it has never been easier to measure and reduce our impact on the world around us. From apps that help track and off-set carbon emissions, to water conservation, rewilding and forestry schemes, even renewable energy incentives.

Why should I?

Investors and rating agencies are increasingly considering businesses’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, as sustainability moves up the political agenda. Social risks are typically those that affect the community in which a company operates, such as through health and safety, working conditions or economic opportunity.

As an indicator, ESG news in April had almost double the coverage compared to November. Investors are anticipated to spend $1bn on ESG data tracking by 2021 (20% per annum growth). BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink has committed to making sustainability the new standard for investing (for the nearly $7 trillion in assets that the company manages) and has outlined several practical ways in which this will be progressed.

Global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative which aims to tackle harmful emissions and waste across fashion industry supply chains. This will allow fashion brands to source raw materials and track their sustainability, providing them with greater transparency over the environmental impact of their supply chains.

SERVICEBRAND

When you are able to align your organisation with sustainability goals, you establish a powerful narrative, one that connects you to your consumers and services users through mutual understanding of the responsibility we all share to make our planet a better and safer place to live. We here at SERVICEBRAND aren’t about lip service, we are here to help you create sustainability strategies that see you transform the way people recognise you, helping them to engage with you in a more long lasting and purposeful way.

Demystifying the world of Values

VALUES / Torn Paper Concept (Click for more)

Taking the mystery out of values

The ‘values’ word has received increasing attention over the past few years and it has now become fashionable for people from all walks of life to use the word as a way to gain support for their point of view or cause. ‘Values’ is used freely but often in a general way without much consideration for any specific values and, even when these are used, they are rarely defined or described in practical terms. The word values has therefore become a word that most people are familiar with and yet, at the same time, far fewer grasp the meaning of.

For individuals, as well as organizations, values sit at the gateway between our inner and outer worlds. They describe what is fundamentally important and meaningful to us and relate directly to our sense of purpose and to our needs as individuals to survive and thrive.

Organisational values set out the principles by which the organisation aspires to practice in all areas of engagement with various stakeholder groups. At their best, they are a way to inspire employees to give their best and help other stakeholders to be clear about what is important to the organisation. At their worst, they are a meaningless set of words which are totally disconnected from the day to day reality of decisions and behaviours and might be referenced by leaders from time to time to ‘validate’ a message, decision or action..

When developed correctly, a set of strong values that are clearly articulated both internally and externally, will help build your brand identity, maintain employee, service partner and customer or service user loyalty, and provide room for the organisation to grow.

The challenge is that organisational values are sometimes treated as a marketing or PR exercise, led by a few members of senior management (and perhaps supported by external creative agencies) to create an attractive ‘display’ and documentation. The real test of values being alive in an organisation is whether everyone that works there can tell you what the organisation does, what its values are and what this means to them in their day to day work. In our experience, this is rare.

Worse still is when employees can list off the organisational values like a parrot, but there is no evidence anywhere of them actually being lived or put into practice.

Beating ambiguity

The size of your organisation doesn’t affect your ability to define its values. But it is easy to get lost in the process if you aren’t careful. Many businesses when starting down the road to identifying values, struggle to delineate and distil who they are at their core.

This can lead to walls and walls of laminated sheets with great words like ‘responsibility, honesty, communication etc’, that have no sense of uniqueness or real-life practice put into them.

The disconnect here comes from an inability to reconcile who you think you are with who your organisation actually is. Much like individual or personal values, the core values of your organisation should be borne out of your purpose and who you want to be, not only when times are good, but also in times of crisis.

Establishing values

If we remove money as a motivating factor, employees will almost always choose a career in an area that aligns with their personal interests and identity. When values are not made clear by the organisation, it can lead to people feeling mislead, and and an almost immediate disengagement from the employee.

Whether starting a business now or re-examining who you are in a time where employee engagement and alignment truly matters, establish your values first. Once you know who you are, it will be far easier to attracted talented people who will fit in and engage with your organisation.

Values in practice

Words are great, but don’t often come with values practices to help create tangible and actionable behaviour. Everyone might have a slightly or more extreme different interpretation of the organisational values as they relate to their own individual experience.

The key to good values is how they are practiced. If you are stuck, begin to observe the behaviour of the people engaged with your organisation, what does it tell you about the type of people connecting with you?

How might that need to change or be altered to better reflect who you want the organisation to be at its core?

Once you can identify what you stand for, it becomes easier to see when things are not aligning correctly. Misalignment of values and purpose within organisations causes billions of pounds and hours of effort every year to be wasted. So it really is worth putting the work in and firstly developing your values and then further creating practices with which you can see tangible behavioural results.

Crisis shifts

Times will always change, and unforeseen events might occur that have the potential to shake organisations to the ground. Your values are what see you through the tough times to maintain and rebuild stronger in the aftermath.

The pandemic highlighted this mass shift, as it made it clear to service users who really lives their values and who doesn’t. When you are inconsistent in your values, consumer trust is lost very quickly, can be slow to rebuild, and is sometimes lost forever. Make sure when creating a values plan, that the values you choose to represent you, are ones you will live even in a crisis. Those companies that put loyalty up on the wall, that then laid off many employees when the pandemic hit, have now seen dramatic drops in their profit and engagement since. If you can’t be trusted, your customers will feel it.

More choice allows people to be more thoughtful and purposeful about their engagement and alignment with products and services. The clearer you are about who you are, the more easily likeminded individuals can find you, and when alignment is truly achieved, you’ll have secured a customer for life.

SERVICEBRAND

Anyone can claim a set a values, but they are for nothing if not lived in practice. Approaches such as the Values Pledge and the award winning 31Practices approach can help to turn the conceptual into something more practical, taking values off the wall and translating them into concrete behaviours. Why not connect with us at SERVICEBRAND and see what we can do to help you navigate the world of values because we believe that values are for living not laminating.

Values are for living, not laminating

Developing values

So many people have stated that the last eighteen months have caused them to reassess what is important in their lives, or in other words their values. When you consider that 33% of people feel their work and personal values don’t align, it’s no wonder that it is a challenge to develop and implement corporate values and grow a healthy values driven culture.

How often have you found yourself asking someone why they do the work they do, only to be told, for the money?

The word values is now so commonplace that sometimes the meaning is forgotten. Core values are traits or qualities that represent deeply held beliefs. They reflect what is important to us, and what motivates us. For an organization, values define what it stands for and how it is seen and experienced by all stakeholders (customers, employees, service partners, suppliers, and communities).

Values act as guiding principles –as a behavioural and decision-making compass. In an organization, values (explicit or implicit) guide every person every day. They are the foundation for the way things work, providing the basis of the corporate culture. For individuals, as well as organizations, values sit at the gateway between our inner and outer worlds. They describe what is fundamentally important and meaningful to us and relate directly to our sense of purpose and to our needs as individuals to survive and thrive.

Understanding different types of values

Values are a vast a complex subject matter. It will never be as simple as saying “we believe in compassion” because different people might have a different idea of what compassion means and looks like, based on their own experiences.

So, when starting to examine what your organisational values might be, you might first wish to consider what the core essence of the organisation is and what makes you different. This will help you get to the heart of who you are, what truly matters, and how to go about living it, in an authentic way.

If you set values with only colleagues in mind, they won’t represent your business, customers, or service users. The same is true when creating values based purely on your perceived notions of what the customer wants.

Understanding values isn’t about putting some words up on a wall. It is about honest identification of your organisations purpose and the style in which this will be achieved, being consistent to different stakeholder groups.

Disconnect between what is and what should be

Creating values driven organisational culture is complicated – if it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. It is alright to ask for a little help, when coming to new and different ways of doing something. But if you are here, it is because your ideal culture isn’t aligning with the reality of how things actually are.

Understanding and engagement is key, and what is hard to tell is easy to teach. How many times have you attended a meeting or huddle where the boss has espoused a new plan or set of values that are now who we are. No feedback, no involvement or recognition. Just this is it. Live it.

If you are familiar with this scenario, you’ll know enforcing values seldom works. The weight of having to internalise a whole new set of values in order to be considered competent, can often lead to far more misunderstandings and frustration.

Imagine being told one of our new values is ‘open and authentic communication’ only to be ignored or to live in fear of actually reporting things to higher management. For the longest time, fear, power, and respect have been used as motivational tools to enforce workplace productivity. But they have a critical failing. If the people working for you don’t feel able to communicate honestly about the issues they are having on the ground, you will always be working with the wrong information. This builds further resentment and frustration from the top down, because in appearances everything is fine. But the numbers don’t lie.

It is far easier to live values by example than by dictation. If you value open communication, all you have to do is communicate openly, and this will teach those around you how to do so as well. (Prepare yourself, thicken your skin and remember “critique of your management style is not a personal attack”.)

Putting values at the centre of everything an organization does is the starting point to create a strong and authentic brand. This is particularly relevant for service organisations where people are a core element of their proposition. But the focus on values needs to be sincere and authentic rather than a lip service PR campaign and, remember to lead by example.

Weaving real commitments into lived values

To create an impact, core values need to extend into the day-to-day fabric of the organization and be a reference for decisions and behaviours at all levels, influencing people daily.

“Values are for living not laminating.”

Those in different places in an organization see evidence of culture and values differently. For example, those at the top, rate tangible KPIs (key performance indictors) as demonstrative of organizational culture (e.g. financial performance, competitive compensation); those lower down rate their personal experience as important evidence of ‘values’ (e.g. open communication, employee recognition, access to leaders). Both are important forms of evidence that should be considered when developing and implementing any change in workplace culture.

Rules vs Values

Once you have established a set of values, they should represent you, informing all who come into contact with your organisation, what you are about. Hiring, promotion and dismissals should all be aligned with your values too. Get the right people in the right places and watch your organisation transform!

Values play a much more effective roll in workplace culture than rules do. It is impossible to always monitor everyone at your organisation, not to mention uncomfortable and toxic to have the need to have to do so.

When all your practises are aligned, you don’t have to worry as much about enforcing rules, because you’ll know who you are and have values driven processes in place to hire people that fit your organization, and thrive on your encouragement, rather than suffer under your thumb.

SERVICEBRAND

Why not connect with us here at SERVICEBRAND to see how we might help you identify you values and cultivate a plan to help shift organisational culture towards a values-based system that will increase the wellbeing of everyone at each point of service.

Why Organisational Alignment with Service Partners Matters.

As previously discussed alignment looks at how well an organisation functions as whole. But how can we function in a complete and meaningful way, when most people put no stock in the power of vertical and horizontal alignment?

More organisations are connecting to the idea that vertical alignment can benefit their overall longevity and profitability. Yet, those same organisations seem to put limited stock in the idea that horizontal alignment with service partners plays an equally important role.

Vertical alignment

Vertical alignment within an organisational context, is the way resources and strategies are engaged in the same direction to work towards to the organisation’s goals, mission, or purpose. Having this kind of vertical alignment as a main focus, drives every part of the business the same way. When this happens everyone involved knows what they are contributing towards, and that their contributions are valued as a small part of a larger whole.

Vertical alignment also encourages efficiency from the top down and bottom up. Those at the top will know their front facing employees are aligned with the organisation’s values and mission. These felt sensibilities are passed onto the customer through them. In return, lower-level employees will feel valued and able to express their experiences up the ladder in a way that sees changes made to retain proper alignment. If you don’t know how your employees feel about your management, or aren’t sure if they understand your organisational values, it’s time to ask them.

Horizontal alignment

As well as aligning from top to bottom, it is also possible and important to align across all areas of connected business. Any company, organisation, or business that you work with, even if not a part of you directly, is still an important part of your eventual success. How clear you are about who you are as an organisation, and how well this aligns with the values and purpose of the people and groups you do business with, will define how beneficial and long lasting the working relationship will be.

Alignment between organisations and service providers

As well as vertical alignment, horizontal alignment is an important, if underrepresented concept. Many studies and personal opinions show, that while people are starting to understand the importance in aligning vertically, the major still aren’t considering horizontal alignment with service partners/providers as being of the same importance.

Aligning expectations

In order to find the right service partners, managing expectations and creating an environment of effective communication is key. If your organisation is not well aligned vertically, and struggles to communication its values internally, how can you hope to express yourself correctly to any service providers you may need to work with.

Money makes the world go round, but it is not the only factor that should be considered. Look carefully at who you say you are. Is it clear? Can anyone looking in immediately know who you are and what you stand for?

The same applies when considering who to partner with for services or outsourced production. Alignment won’t exist in organisations that claim a set of values that are not adhered to in all areas of business. Even down to selecting who to work with. Customers can always detect inauthentic businesses, those that claim to have a strong set of values, yet partner with organisations that don’t represent those same values at all.

Communication is key, you have to be clear about who you are and what you expect from your service partners. Once engaged by you, they will become a part of who you are. If they don’t understand what you represent, how can they communicate your brand, message and values to your customers or service users?

Post-pandemic opportunity

The pandemic has offered a rare opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate and reconsider some of their service arrangements. As more service providers realise that value delivery is just as important as service delivery.

What gets done is important, but even more so is the way in which it is achieved. Claiming to be an organisation that values service quality, who then outsources part of their offering to people who aren’t paid a living wage or trained in any way to represent the business in the right way, will always negatively affect customer relationships.

Cheaper is easier, but it isn’t better. There is a unique opportunity now to renegotiate these relationships, so that they better reflect the type of organisation you are striving to become. So that your values are understood, not only internal, but externally, across all customers and service providers.

SERVICEBRAND

Those that aren’t considering both forms of alignment are missing an opportunity to generate lifelong customer loyalty and sustainable market share, through a more consistent approach to business and organisational management.

If you are having trouble with organisational alignment, the SERVICEBRAND approach provides a framework, which can facilitate the creation of joined up approach to help you create a more aligned and thus more efficient organisation.

Engagement Ideas and Empowerment Strategies For Business

Irrespective of whether your business is going through a period of change or enjoying a consistent period of growth and steadiness, having engaged employees is paramount to your success.

Here are some sobering statistics as food for thought from the Gallup 2017 Global Workplace Study :

  • Only 1 in 10 UK employees feel engaged
  • A fifth of employees feel actively disengaged
  • Engaged employees are 17% more productive
Continue reading “Engagement Ideas and Empowerment Strategies For Business”
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