Tag: Identity

Experience-led workplace design

Building customer experience (CX) can be a real challenge, it requires a great deal of data, understanding and the right application of insights about your customers’ desired outcomes. Not only this, but also how to create the kind of experience that leads customers to a better perception of your offering that they may not have had before.

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology” Steve Jobs

Experience-led design is not new, and most people will have experienced and benefitted from this approach using any Apple product, hence the Steve Jobs quote above. However, in commercial real estate, the ‘customer experience’ is often designed and delivered subsequently within the confines of the physical design.

There are clear and obvious disadvantages with this: imagine a new office with a beautifully designed reception desk but where there is a desire to reinforce personal service and a hosting style reception service with no barriers. The best results and least waste can only be achieved by designing the workplace customer experience first and then using this to inform the design of the built environment.

In practical terms, the first step is to create a strategic vision brief, articulating the purpose of the project, the values and brand concept and a high-level customer journey experience, covering all senses and the aspiration for how ‘customers’ will feel, what they will know and do. The built design and service delivery model can then flow from this starting point.

Well-being

Another dimension of customer experience in a workplace environment is the topic of well-being which has gained traction in the last 5 years or so – organizations are increasingly investing time and energy in this area. The well-being topic is wide ranging and covers a spectrum of topics from physical wellbeing (diet, hydration, exercise, sleep), an array of mental health issues, spiritual well-being (prayer facilities), employment factors (adequate pay and working hours), environmental factors (office design, ergonomics, biophilia, air quality, temperature, light and sound), social wellbeing (interaction and collaboration with colleagues), and even the benefit of an adrenalin rush.

Facilities management plays a key role because the function delivers so many of these wellbeing related services and facilities. The BCO’s 2018 research report, Wellness Matters, states that employee wellbeing is intricately linked to employee productivity and is boosted by spacious, naturally lit offices with good air quality and amenities.

Built environment

The scope of the physical design can also be extended to how different styles of workspaces can support different types of work (e.g. confidential calls, deep concentration, collaboration, creative thinking etc) and the importance of areas to take a break.

Some workspaces are designed deliberately to create specific traffic flows or impromptu ‘meetings’. I remember an office I visited in Johannesburg where the CEO had escalators installed as a central feature – wanting to avoid the silence he had witnessed between groups of employees when they used the elevators. There has been an increasing interest in biophilic office design: bringing the outdoors into the workplace and results in improved productivity, increased concentration levels, greater creativity, enhanced wellbeing, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and improved employee retention.

The cost versus investment perspective is well demonstrated by looking at the decision about whether to provide catering and/or kitchen space in an office. From a pure cost perspective, this is often a large area of expensive real estate, especially if the space is only fully used at lunch time. On the other hand, the space can be a highly effective vehicle for organizational communications, a potential area for collaboration and informal networking, a way to provide healthy food for employees and is convenient, avoiding any need for people to leave the building. As we are now learning, employees that have time to make and build friendships at work are far more productive than those that don’t.

We also know companies who do not have catering space because they have made a strategic decision to support the local business community. You can see that what might seem to be a simple decision at face value can involve a complex set of considerations and COVID-19 has added a whole new dimension with the office versus work from home (or elsewhere) dynamic.

Style

The final layer is the style of service delivery. The combination of the style of service, range of services and built environment are a strong message to employees and visitors about what is important to the organization, and we recommend to clients that the area of corporate real estate services is given sufficient focus and attention.

Research shows that workplaces that have been designed in tune with employee sentiment deliver a significant upswing in pride. There is a commonly held belief that people who experience a certain level of admiration derived from the efforts and achievements of their employer are more likely to become brand ambassadors for the company in question, and this can only go on to have a positive impact on a customer’s experience.

The new ‘workplace’

This area has taken on a whole new dimension now that the scope of ‘workplace’ has been extended by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two fundamental developments:
1) For many office workers, the office is no longer the de facto place of work. The organization leaders in workplace need to consider how employees can be equipped to be as productive and fulfilled as possible, individually and collectively.
2) Because there is a viable, and often desirable alternative to the office, the organization leaders in workplace have a challenge to make the office a place that employees want to come to work … with experience-led workplace design.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in experience-led workplace design. Twenty years ago, I moved from the commercial hospitality sector (five-star hotels, conference centres and restaurants) and used this experience to implement experience-led workplace design with an award-winning One Team supply chain approach. If you are looking to improve the design and service delivery in your organization’s workplace to attract and retain talent and maximise productivity and fulfilment, let’s explore how SERVICEBRAND Global can help.
This blog is based on Chapter 19, Workplace from The Values Economy

What is SERVICEBRAND Global?

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”
Arthur Ashe

This month marks the 17th anniversary of the creation of my company, SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL Ltd. The SERVICEBRAND journey started with a classic, corporate, defining moment or series of moments. By way of background and context, in 2002, a major global facilities management company were looking for a senior leader to develop the account for a Big Four bank and their UK office portfolio.

A key criterion for the appointment was a five-star hotel industry background. And since I had successfully turned around a five-star hotel and country club, uniquely delivering three consecutive all-green balanced scorecards and receiving recognition within the company and industry wide. I was excited to be offered the opportunity to transfer my skills across sectors from hotels to the workplace environment.

The assignment was an all-round success, founded on implementing a hotel style service delivery model for the collection of service partner companies involved and their combined total of 5,000 employees.

Commercially, the account grew from an £8m turnover catering contract to a £150m turnover multi-services contract. Industry recognition was received by way of a CoreNet Global Innovation Award and a service partner Customer Experience award from the bank.

Both the facilities management company and the bank were keen to explore a co-owned joint venture arrangement to scale the business proposition and take it to the open market, targeting major global contracts. The small management team were set to become shareholders and the business plan revenue numbers were in the billions of pounds.

Defining moments

First, there was a change of the facilities management company UK CEO. The incoming CEO, who had arrived from the international division of the organization sent a lengthy introduction open email to all employees explaining how he was going to create a successful future for the company. Within a week, he had left the business over an alleged historic scandal and the company chose to ‘batten down the hatches’ to focus on the core catering business. The embryonic new business concept was shut down before its first breath and my role was made redundant.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Epictetus

The beginning

It was August 2005, and the above experience was the encouragement to set up, for want of a better term, a management consultancy business. The decision was based more on intuition than on a considered business plan and was informed by the following:

• a personal passion for customer service, the importance of front-line people and creation of admired brands.
• success in several senior leadership roles, both with large corporate organizations and smaller entrepreneurial companies.
• experience at Managing Director/General Manager level with a deep understanding of operational delivery and several specialist support functions, particularly Marketing and HR as well as Sales, Finance, Health & Safety, Property Management, Revenue Management, and others.
• a wide network of business connections.
• a realization that frustration with the way in which decisions were made in large corporate organizations kept being repeated.
• a desire to work with progressive service organizations who wanted to be leaders in their market or sector.

The business name came easily. It needed to indicate a focus on people delivering great customer service and the strength of an organization’s brand identity. It needed to have potential to scale internationally and, ideally, would be a name with a unique quality. SERVICE BRAND GLOBAL was born, and quickly became SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, and the invented word ‘SERVICEBRAND’ was registered as a trademark.

Initially, it seemed like a good idea to offer support and advice to senior leaders of service sector organizations in a wide range of areas to improve their businesses, but it soon became clear that this ‘jack of all trades’ approach was not compelling when people were usually seeking a solution to a specific challenge or problem.

A three-month contract to lead a cultural transformation for the corporate real estate division of an investment bank for their London office provided some thinking space to develop a more coherent, packaged, or productised service offering, rather than basing the proposition on personal expertise, knowledge, and service.

The creative thinking process to develop and articulate the offer was a replay of the approach used in various leadership roles over the previous twenty years. Significant business impact and success had been achieved repeatedly so the task was to draw out the common threads of how this had been achieved.

Core themes

One strong core theme was a combination of theory and practice: understanding the theory which helped to underpin successful practical outcomes, applying theory in practice and, finally, understanding the relationship between the two.

Personal experience of working with various business models or frameworks (e.g., EFQM Excellence model, Hospitality Assured, IiP, and the Service Profit chain) had also been beneficial. The key insight was the value of having an overarching organization framework to support general management of the business instead of allowing an approach more reliant on individual functions and the organization structure.

These frameworks helped to join up the functions of business horizontally and vertically i.e., actively involving all members of the team and keeping them focussed on the priorities for the business as a whole. Other areas which had helped to create improved business performance were putting in place various common operating systems and processes including communication channels and employing methods to capture measurement and insight.

Evolution

The concept development process helped to identify that the first time the SERVICEBRAND approach had been used in its (almost) full form was at the City of London’s leading conference venue in 1996 (yet without knowing it) and then at a five-star hotel and country club. There was more conscious application with the facilities management company operating one of the Big Four bank’s UK offices portfolio.

In the seventeen years since the ‘beginning’, the SERVICEBRAND approach has been refined and developed alongside the use of a set of associated tools, some proprietary and others in collaboration with partners. Various projects have been delivered at different levels across industry sectors.

At one end of the scale, the framework has been applied in its entirety in large corporate organizations on a global or regional basis with a variety of workstreams over a two to three-year period. At the other end of the scale, much smaller, sometimes single location organizations have chosen to focus on one ‘Element’ of the SERVICEBRAND approach and perhaps even one specific tool e.g. 31Practices.

What all of the clients in these organizations have in common, is a progressive mindset and a recognition that a values-driven approach to a team of brand ambassadors delivering a memorable customer experience can be an immensely powerful way to achieve sustained performance. Both larger and smaller projects have received industry awards.

In 2018, the word SERVICEBRAND became trademarked in US and in EU.

It has been quite a journey so far, time flies when you are having fun. And there are still more adventures to be had with a retreat concept, a customer experience training program partnership and a global visual arts initiative all forming!

Awareness: Part 2

In the first blog on Awareness (here) we looked at NLP, calibrating changing and the link between intention and awareness. The second part focuses on feedback loops and the way perception affects our sense of awareness.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” -Abraham Maslow

Feedback loops

In your day-to-day life you are experiencing feedback loops all the time and these feedback loops give you a clue about what to do next. When you talk with other people you are usually scanning for signs of connection, understanding, resonance and so on. When you watch two people speaking, notice how the listener will often nod their head or make sounds such as “uh huh”. This is valuable feedback for the speaker.

To demonstrate our need for feedback, find someone to talk to and when they are speaking, keep your head perfectly still, do not make any gestures or sounds, keep your face completely expressionless and just look at them neutrally. Notice how quickly the other person becomes uncomfortable. This demonstrates the importance of feedback; without it we do not know what to do.

The next time you meet someone, be aware of the tone in their voice, their gestures, their energy shifts. What is this non-verbal communication telling you about how they feel and how do you respond to it?

By bringing awareness to the way these cues affect you, you will be able to better control the way your cues affect other people. In this way, you will be able to build better and longer lasting relationships with people, as you will understand better the place where their feedback is generated. You’ll be able to see the emotional driver behind the mask. Allowing for deeper and more meaningful connection.

It is obvious that you can be aware of things that are tangible, such as objects, other people, the weather and so on. But you can also be aware of things that are less tangible, such as how you feel about something, including when something “just doesn’t feel right”.

This is very true when it comes to your values. Although we can be consciously aware of some our values, often they may be out of our conscious awareness; they may be sitting in the subconscious. You may become more aware of these values when they are being honoured or compromised.

By way of example, have you experience a situation where everything just seemed “right”, where relationships, actions, decisions, results were all so easy, enjoyable, and successful? It is likely that your value/s were being honoured.

On the other side of the coin, have you ever been asked to do something, and you had a funny feeling about it? It just didn’t feel right? Did you sense some form of discomfort internally, perhaps in your gut? This was likely to be a subconscious signal telling you that one of your values was being compromised.

Awareness of feedback loops trains us to better engage the world around us, to better understand ourselves and our own values, so we might be of more service to others. In a more understanding and compassionate way.

Perception

Perception is all about awareness. You can only respond to what you are aware of. The British anthropologist, Gregory Bateson, said that to really understand any situation fully, you need to examine it from at least three different perspectives. Take the example of a disagreement between you and someone else. There will be your opinion, the other person’s opinion and then what a neutral observer may see.

Take a look at the diagram below. From one perspective a person may be certain that they are looking at a circle, from a different perspective another person may be certain the object is a square and yet from another perspective, the truth becomes more apparent.

How often do you view something from just one perspective? What more might you discover when you take a different viewpoint?

The Truth perspective

Raising our awareness that the meaning in every situation depends on how we look at it will enable us to make more informed choices with potentially better outcomes.

To change unhelpful patterns of behaviour or habits you must be first become aware of them. If you are looking to change certain patterns of thought and/or behaviour, it is important to notice when you are doing and/or thinking or doing something that works against your higher positive intention and then take action to do something about it.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe awareness is a key factor in the healthy development of the self, both professionally and personally. By training in awareness, through better understanding of perception and feedback, we can all move closer to being fully aware human beings. People who act on their values in a positive and meaningful way, rather than a reactive and emotionally shallow way. Our 31Practices approach can help you build a sense of awareness and conscious practice at a personal or organizational level.

Cultural Alignment


Understanding the terminology around Culture, Values and Alignment can be a challenge. This is a highly subjective area and, as such, every leader, employee, service partner and customer might have a different perspective on what certain words mean and which behaviours are appropriate or not.

Can your Values align with that of the organization without being a cultural fit? Or do you have to fit in with the company culture to be aligned with the organization?

What do you mean?

Being a cultural fit can be interpreted in different ways, but at its heart, the meaning is about how well an individual fits in with the rest of the organization, while retaining their authentic and normal self. The trouble starts when different individuals champion their understanding of what fits as the only right way or feel forced to change their everyday behaviours to fit in with other people.

It is a fine balance, but the bottom line is that speaking to the nature of your culture doesn’t make it so. This is especially the case if customers and employees are having a different experience entirely.
On the one hand, leaning too heavily on one idea of what organizational culture should be can cause problems. Sometimes it helps to investigate the true personality or nature of the organization’s culture from all perspectives. On the other hand, leadership need to grasp that it is their responsibility to create the desired culture and can have a strong influence. We love the quote from Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker that “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”

The right people

The happier and more connected employees feel while working, the more likely they are to remain with your organization and to be consistently productive. Just because someone is occupying physical space doesn’t mean they are interested or engaged to be there. Take the time to find people that really connect with and love what they are doing. It is not rocket science that this investment of time is paid back over and over again.

Employees that aren’t a good cultural fit can also be damaging to the overall health of the organization. When people don’t mesh well together, conflict and toxic behaviours arise that can spread quickly. In a short time, there can be a widespread bad feeling about engaging with the business, even with those who are a good cultural fit.

What culture fit isn’t

Organizations seeking to create culture-based hiring strategies often look to the skills and personalities of their ‘successful’ (through one lens of success) people. They think it will be a simple process to identify those traits and then match external applicants against them.

The big problem with basing culture fit on skills and personality is that you end up with carbon copy employees that think and act in incredibly similar ways. Diversity is a proven generator of innovation. Having a wide mix of differing personalities, skills, and abilities, creates the ideal melting pot for continued growth and longevity within an organization.

Desiring a specific kind of culture, should never amount to creating barriers that certain people cannot pass. When companies like Abercrombie and Fitch for example created their ‘look policy’ a toxic culture of exclusion was created for anyone that didn’t fit that mould. Now this policy has finally been removed, it opens the way for innovators to rebuild the brand into something that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The Value of Values

So, if designing culture around personality can lead to problems, and the same is true for skills, what can you do?

Values are the best starting point for any cultural design. When you study and understand what it is you truly Value and how your organization wants to bring that Value to the world, you create the perfect beacon with which to attract other likeminded people to share in your vision.

People can share common Values while embodying a multitude of different skills and personality types. If your organization designs its cultural fit around Values alignment, you’ll end up with the best people for you, all working towards a common goal.

In this way the gender divide, the age gap, reductive beliefs around people with disabilities in the workplace, all fall away in pursuit of finding people that live the way of being you value the most.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in placing Values at the heart of everything an organization does. Whether you already know what your Values are, or if you are at the beginning of your journey and would like to identify your values, we can assist in the creation and implementation of strategic designs that see your organization create the best cultural alignment possible. The key is alignment across the organization, vertically and horizontally. We have specific proven tools and approaches to do this. If you are stuck in a toxic situation or just wish to understand a bit more about the Value of Values, why not connect with us and see what we can do for you?

Sustainable Organizations and Values

“A sustainable business is resource efficient, respects the environment and is a good neighbor.” (Phil Harding )

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments, and keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our 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.

There is no universally agreed definition of what sustainability means. There are many different views on what it is and how it can be achieved. The idea of sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the world’s first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The original definition of sustainable development, according to the Brundtland Report of 1987, 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.” Since then, 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, etc. – and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

Sustainability on the move

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 2020 had almost double the coverage compared to November 2019. Investors are anticipated to spend $1 billion 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. In June 2020, global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative that 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.

The triple bottom line theory expands the traditional accounting framework to include two other performance areas: the social and environmental impacts of a company. These three bottom lines are often referred to as the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. B Corps are businesses that give as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns. B Corporation certification (assessed by the not-for-profit B Lab) is given to for-profit organizations that achieve at least a minimum score against a set of social and environmental standards. B Corps have been around in the USA since 2007, with brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia achieving certification.

To date, there are over 3,000 Certified B Corps in 150 industries and 70 countries, and over 70,000 companies use the B Impact Assessment. B Lab was named in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2020, landing at number five in the not-for-profit sector list. Since UK B Corps was launched in 2015, members have experienced an average 14% year-on-year growth rate (national economic growth 0.5%).
Values are the key

We believe that the reason this movement and B Corp companies perform so well is because they are creating a sense of shared values with all stakeholders, especially customers and employees. There is a growing body of research showing that there is a strong link between financial performance and values-driven organizations.

“Without exception, the dominance and coherence of culture proved to be an essential quality of the excellent companies.” (Tom Peters and Robert Waterman )

The key point here is that values must be alive to add value. We use the phrase ‘values are for living, not laminating’ because all too often in organizations, values are just words (and the same ones from one organization to the next) but they do not translate into practices or ‘the way things work around here.’ A recent study revealed that there is no correlation between the cultural values a company emphasizes in its published statements and how well the company lives up to those values in the eyes of employees. The SERVICEBRAND framework helps to make this happen at several levels:

• The Brand Identity Element identifies the organization’s purpose and values
• The activities in the Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Elements are explicitly informed by the purpose and values
• The activities in the Systems & Processes Element are consciously designed to support the first three Elements
• The Measurement & Insight Element helps to identify a range of whole-system metrics to monitor, assess and guide performance

This is how using the SERVICEBRAND approach can help to deliver sustained performance over time.
What implications does the topic of sustainability have for your implementation of the SERVICEBRAND approach and each of the five Elements? What opportunities does it present? What challenges and obstacles will you need to overcome?

SERVICEBRAND

If you are struggling and battling with the creation of sustainable strategies and processes, why not see what SERVICEBRAND Global can do to help. We believe in connecting people with their true values so they can be of service to the world around them, while still turning a profit.

Creating Positive Organizational Culture

Culture is one of the key elements contributing to organizational success. A strong and sustainable culture makes it much easier to attract the kind of employees that fit. More importantly, it will keep them engaged. This will help you retain skilled and talented employees for longer.

Organizations that succeed in creating healthy workplace cultures, often find themselves a cut above the competition.

Where to begin?

It can be hard to know where to start, and difficult to admit that you might be getting it wrong. All too often we see organizations championing values like honesty, accountability, and respect. Yet, in the day to day, we do not see these values put into practice.

Employees that are punished for their honesty, are less like to be honest again. Unfair and uneven processes of accountability often breed resentment and demotivate employees from trying to do the right thing. Respect is a two-way street. You cannot demand what you refuse to give.

When starting the journey to a healthy and positive organizational culture, you must first consider what really matters to you. What is your organization’s purpose and values? Clarity about what you are trying to achieve and the way in which you want to achieve it provides a guiding compass that will sustain your business on its journey to success.

The value of different points of view

It is valuable to gain insight into what is important to a wide range of stakeholders, especially employees. This might be straightforward in a healthy, open culture and more of a challenge if you are attempting to fix a toxic culture. If your employees fear the leadership or management they work under, it will be harder to get an honest and unbiased answer. Getting to the truth of the real experience employees are having is critical to creating a positive culture.

Anonymous surveys can be a way to get genuine feedback. Prepare yourself though. Just because your employees aren’t complaining, doesn’t mean they are happy. They might be in fear of their losing their job or that horribly demotivating feeling of finally speaking up and still not being heard.

The way your employees see the organization is critical in understanding and exploring strategies to build more positive culture. Make sure to give them the time and space to express themselves. And try not to take how they feel personally. Your role as a leader is to create a safe and positive company culture through understanding, not blame-shift or deny the experiences of others, as they feel them. This is the same approach as encouraging and receiving feedback from customers.

Painting the right picture

Think of the creation of a healthy culture being like an artist painting a picture. They both take a delicate balance of structured planning and attention to detail to deliver the best result. Too little structured planning and the ‘canvas’ will become a jumbled mess, too much attention to detail and it will take too long to finish for fear of getting it wrong.

Navigating the path between those behaviours you wish to encourage and those that you must make clear cannot be tolerated is a complex one. Pay close attention to the way you train and teach what is unacceptable behaviour. If you train your employees too strictly over minor infractions, you risk creating a group of disengaged people that will likely only perform when they know you are watching. On the other hand, as Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker state “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate.” It is a fine line.

Culture informed processes

Once you know your purpose and values, you can start to design processes that will eventually create a self-sustaining loop of positive culture. When you know what you value you can start to look for people that are already aligned with similar values. Your recruitment processes should always look for the right ‘fit’ for the company culture. Rather than talking about the organization’s values, you can reflect and reinforce the values in the process itself.

Skills can be learned, trained for, and developed overtime, but our values are wholly unique to our individual life experience. It is far better for your organization’s longevity and profitability to hire people that work well within the kind of positive culture you wish to create, than it is to hire an incredible seller or customer service agent that doesn’t work well in a team.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in creating bespoke strategies that focus on understanding purpose and values to drive organizational alignment. We don’t believe in copy and paste organizational cultures. We want to help you create a self-sustaining positive culture in the workplace that lets you get the best out of your employees because they are valued and part of a team. Why not see what SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can do for you!

Communicating Organizational Values

Organizations are becoming more switched on to the importance of aligning their vision and purpose with their values. A set of clearly defined values can directly contribute to the creation of an inclusive, engaging, and strong organizational culture.

How well these values are understood has a direct impact on employee alignment. And also how well connected your customers and services users feel about your organization’s identity/brand as a whole.

The next hurdle

Defining these values can be a complicated task. We have dived into deeper discussions on how to identify the right values for your organization in previous blogs. The process, however, doesn’t end with a neat list of values. What comes next is the most difficult part. Successfully communicating them to your employees and to your wider audience as a whole.

Building understanding in a consistent and well explained manner is a keystone to developing company culture that supports your purpose and vision. This can be done by aligning everyone with actionable, values-led behaviours to embody while representing your organization.

Values are for living

Values are for living, not laminating. Of course, visual reminders can play a useful role in reinforcing the message around expected behaviours. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that this is the job done. The key is to focus on the specific behaviours you are looking to employ within your organization. For example if one of your stated values is ‘integrity’, you might put energy into ensuring that ‘We treat all of our service users equally.’

The words used as Values are nothing more than a label. They are highly subjective; each person might have a different idea about which behaviours they most readily associate with the words selected to represent the organization. That is why clear communication of the definition of the value word and the kinds of behaviour expected to reflect those values is so important.

The Leadership Shadow

The next important step in the effective communication of values, is also the most critical. People learn by example. Employees’ and customers’ perception is strongly influenced by the way employees in management and leadership roles behave. If the behaviour is in line with the stated values, then the perception of the brand is enhanced. If the behaviour doesn’t reflect the stated values, they will become, at best, confused, and, at worst, disenfranchised.

Anyone in a position of leadership must embody the values of the organization as a matter of personal behaviour. If you have disruption and discomfort in your leadership team around behaving accordingly, they might not be the right people to carry your vision and purpose forward.

Positive reinforcement from leaders will help employees feel supported and encouraged to adopt the right behaviours to best reflect the company’s desired image. Actions do indeed speak far louder than words. A key leadership role is to set the right tone of speech and behaviour for other employees to emulate.

Recognition and reward

Recognition (and sometimes rewards) is important in encouraging people to adopt new behaviours. It is not practical to fire people that don’t immediately fit and replace them with people that do. Change can and does happen, but it takes time, leadership, encouragement and sometimes incentives to change behaviours and perceptions.

When you see employees truly living your desired values, spotlight them with recognition and celebrate this widely to positively reinforce the desired behaviour. Other employees will understand the behaviours that are expected and those that are not accepted. Over time the desirable behaviours become the norm.

But be careful when instituting rewards programs, as they can and often do generate devious behaviours in order to secure a reward. They are great for spotlighting the right desired behaviours in the short term, but don’t have as much of a long-lasting effect as visual ques and learning by example.

SERVICEBRAND

It can be a challenge to identify the kind of organizational culture that would best fit your purpose. Figuring out how to communicate the values effectively and efficiently to everyone can present additional challenges. If you have already started or thinking to start down the path of a values, vision, and purpose assessment of your organization, and want to make sure that they are effectively communicated and embedded, SERVICEBRAND Global can help.

Building Company Culture

An organization’s culture is driven by its values and sense of purpose. It is the driving force behind everything you do. When organizational culture is done well, it can lead to far better performance, not just of employees, but improved relationships with customers, service users and partners as well.

One of the key mistakes organizations make is believing they have a good culture, purely because they say they do. How often have you applied for a job on the basis or belief that the organization’s values, purpose, and culture are a good fit for your own. Only to discover the company culture is superficial and goes no further than the welcome talk and training during the onboarding process.

Changing culture

Cultural change can be challenging, especially when systems and processes are deeply engrained. You would think that toxic culture would be easy to root out and remove from the workplace and customer interactions, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes employees live up to certain parts of the organization’s culture, while holding negative or reductive attitudes towards other parts.

The desire for a cultural shift often comes from a realization that something in the organization isn’t working well. In our experience, time and time again, the situation is caused by a disconnect between the organization’s stated values, purpose and culture and the reality of what is actually happening within the business.

First steps

The first key step in building a strategy to manage long term and successful culture change, is having a sense of where the organization stands right now. This can be tricky, especially if the current systems and processes in place are causing toxic behaviours in the workplace. This could look like employees lying on feedback surveys for fear of repercussions, or customers being incentivised with deals or gifts to give feedback that paints a false picture of how well the business is doing.

In the very worst cases, cultures of fear scare employees into cheating and lying about the quotas they have to fill. This is why fear is seldom a good motivator of organizational culture. You’ll get told what you want to hear, but your finances will always show the truth of it in the end, and you’ll waste years not improving because of a lack of awareness to the damaging practises going on beneath the surface.

Anonymous reporting, feedback surveys and storytelling are great ways to get true and honest feedback about the current state of company culture.

Values

At its heart your company’s culture is a reflection of your values. All of our unique human behaviours and habits are informed by our values. If you value being of service to others, habits will form that see you being of service in functional and useful ways. If you value continuous learning, adaptability, or exploration, you are more likely to create a habitual way of being that helps you fulfil these values.

Passing on our values to others is not easy, that is why it is important to understand your organization’s values in a clear and easily communicable way. This will help you find people that already align in many ways with your culture. Forcing someone to adopt a culture that is foreign to them is doable but takes a lot of work. It is far easy to know where you stand and then find people that align with that purpose.

What next?

Once you know where you are, you can create a plan to take you to where you want to be. Whether that is to improve or overhaul organisational culture, elevate the ideals of the business, or create an environment that enables innovation and service to the customers and service users to flourish beyond merely making money.

Inclusion

People who don’t feel included are far less likely to work with the processes and guidelines. Make sure to include the people that work with and for you in the conversations on culture. Not only them, but your customers as well. People are far more likely to be emotionally invested in a product or service when they feel valued and heard by the leaders of the organization.

Having customers and employees shine an honest light on the realities of company culture can be a challenging experience. Without constant diligence and attention, you can find yourself to have drifted far from the course you originally set out. While this can feel confronting, it is important to be open and honest and trust that with the right adjustments you can realign your organisational culture to properly reflect your purpose and values.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

If you are struggling with an aspect of company culture, SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL is well-positioned to help you identify your current culture, its strengths, and weaknesses. We take abstract and challenging topics out of the conceptual realm and apply them to real and dramatic effective within your organization. Get in touch today to see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL might help elevate your company culture, realign it, and develop new strategies to build your overall business health.

Why Measurement and Insight Matters

Measurement and insight can be defined as the effective and efficient use of data to inform the future development of the organization at all levels. The purpose of collecting this data, is to give the organization’s leaders the best possible picture of the impact being made by the organization.

To impact in this regard means to have a strong influence or effect on someone or something. Impact is often associated with measurement and reward in organizations, especially those following a golden rule. “What get measured, gets done.”

If you are not measuring the impact your organization is having, nor the impact of external factors acting on it, then, how can you possibly create a strategy to effectively navigate the complexities of the organizational world?

The Measurement Matrix

Creating a measurement strategy can sometimes feel overwhelming, planning a strategy for how you will measure the things that will create this strategy can also feel like extra and unnecessary work.

Don’t let the multitude of strategic measurement and insight tools put you off, it is far simpler to create a flexible measurement matrix that can change and shift as you do, while retaining the ability to measure the right data.

Correctly measuring all the data available about your organization will give you a good indication about whether you are currently where you want to be. We start the process by looking at the organizations primary objective. What is the overarching goal of the business?

Once you know the answer to this question you can hold it up next to the collected measurement data and see if you believe the numbers reflect your goal, if you are underperforming against it, or if you have knocked it out of the park.

Target setting

Once you know if your overall objective is being achieved or not, it is time to start setting smaller goals or targets to help you course correct or plot a course to greater future growth in the organisation.

These goals can be slightly abstract, but your main focus should be in setting goals that are evidencable and measurable. If for example, one of your business goals is to measure customer experience. You must design surveys and methods of interaction, that allow your customers to give honest and in-depth replies. It is not enough to do one Twitter poll and consider your measurement achieved.

Performance indicators

The next step in making the measurement matrix as valuable as possible, is identifying which Key Performance Indicators you will use to keep your organization on track. For example, in the service industry, keeping track of the number of rooms booked, or event tickets sold, versus the number of complaints. Comparing positive and negative aspects of business is a great way to track and measure performance.
When you set reducing the number of complaints as a KPI, you build a strategy that focuses on identifying customer issues and resolving them as a matter of priority so that they don’t continue to affect other customers’ experiences.

Metrics and Analysis

The next steps seem like the easiest, but often tend to be where organizations struggle, as they fail to connect the dots between all the data they have collected and what they should then do with it to improve their organization’s performance.

It is impossible to cover every single metric, but with more collection strategies, you have more building material at your disposal to create plans and frameworks to greatly improve what your business does.

How you choose to analyse the data, will also affect your strategic planning. You might have very different results between online surveys and in-store or on location ones. If you aggregate these insights together, no one gets the data they need to make well-informed decisions. So, it is important to organise your metrics in a way that lets you create tangible KPIs for specific areas of your business. A nuanced and targeted approach is required to maximise effective and efficient strategic development.

Insight

The last part of any effective measurement matrix is insight. You have decided what data you want to collect and have successfully gathered it. Now is the time to combine each area of the matrix to create a fluid measurement strategy that lets you track your process, adapt, and overcome challenges and sets markers for potential future growth and direction.

The strategy becomes a compass that points always towards your organizations key objective. When the matrix is well-designed, it becomes easy to gain insight and perspective on your organization. It will tell you when you aren’t on track and guide you back to your goal.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we specialise in helping you plan your plan. We are strong supporters of measurement and insight as an aid to decision-making and accountability. It has never been cheaper or easier to collect data, and yet without strong leadership and understanding of the core objectives of the business, all of this information goes to waste in strategies that are too basic to accurately account for all the issues facing the organization. Let us help you get back on track.

Values-Driven Leadership


The most successful and profitable organisations are those that have and act on a strong set of core values. But having great organizational values won’t help if they aren’t embodied by everybody throughout the organization, including people in positions of management or leadership.

For a business to be successful, it is critically important that the employees are aligned, engaged, and have a good understanding of the organization’s core values and purpose. When this is achieved, each employee will feel an increased sense of connection to the organization, which will build confidence, commitment, and resilience, and empower them to be the best they can be at work.

Living your values at all levels

But ‘core values’ and ‘purpose’ aren’t just nice words to laminate and decorate the office walls with. Values are for living not laminating has become something and a signature phrase for us and the work we do. Values have to be lived in everything the organization does, employees need to see and more importantly feel that the people in charge truly embrace and live the company values and culture. In the same way, those at the top need to make sure their employees accurately reflect the culture and values expected of them.

Company culture is a two-way street. Your employees often represent the only point of contact with your customers or service users. If they don’t understand or aren’t committed to your values, how can they pass them on?

This process starts at the top, if the leadership team is not seen to be living and embodying the organization’s values, how can other, less senior, employees be expected to do so?

People in leadership positions cast long shadows, and these only grow in size the more senior that person becomes. This can be a great thing when you have someone who truly understands the organization’s values and is able to effectively communicate them to the employees they come into contact with.

But, when leadership behaviour is not values aligned, that shadow will cover everyone beneath it, blanketing them in learned behaviours that do not best represent the company, brand, or organization. When done right, values-driven leadership guides and sets the tone for the employees. These employees are also a valuable barometer of when strategies, decisions or behaviour are failing to reinforce the values in the customer or service user experience.

Self-reflection

One of the most challenging aspects of the journey toward successful values driven leadership, is the ability to practice clear and accurate self-reflection. When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. But it can be tricky to successfully identify what it is you stand for; versus what it is you are willing to do for financial gain or security.

A deeper look inside is required, starting with what matters most to you, and moving towards the values that embody the things you care about. Take time to reflect on your decisions, and on the things that give you motivation and purpose. This will enable you to dial into yourself in a deeper and more meaningful way.

If you begin to struggle with self-reflection, ask for help. Encourage your peers, employees, and employers to give you some honest feedback about your performance at work, or your ability to communicate.

Be prepared, we are not always who we think we are in the eyes of others. It can be great to get positive feedback, but we can also feel demotivated when we learn people see us as something we don’t think we are.

Be open to the process and understand that while their opinions are valid and should be given space, they represent only a small amount of engagement with you in a specific role or situation. It is not about you as a whole person, but about the way you act in certain situations. There is opportunity for growth in all things, so try not to be too hard on yourself or to take things too personally. Reflect with honesty and compassion for yourself, identify and address your blind spots and you’ll become a better leader.

Our unique purpose

Only once we have a true understanding of our own values, can we see where we might be fit within an external organizational framework. Every one of us has unique gifts, abilities, and sense of purpose.

It can be soul crushing and demotivating to finally find an organization that espouses values we also believe in and a purpose we can align with, only to discover the values and purpose are paidl ip service to, succumbing to the desire for profit over everything else.

In the same way a good leader can tell if the employees truly reflect the values of the organisation, employees can tell when a leader is going through the motions. Leaders must apply business strategies to their own self development, by asking similar questions. When asking what sets our business apart from the competition, ask the same questions of yourself: “What sets me apart from others?”, “What unique skills and understanding do I contribute that can bring the organization’s values and purpose to life?”.

Open and honest communication

Once you have figured out what you value, and how you might apply it to the best effect, you then need the final piece of the values-driven leadership puzzle: effectively communicating that vision to others.

Some people do an excellent job at living values, but struggle to explain why, in the same way others do a good job talking about values, but don’t embody them in a real or meaningful way. In business strategy planning, we understand the importance of communicating the brand message to as wide an audience as possible to gain a better market share (Mind share). Yet we don’t spend nearly as much time ensuring that we, as leaders, are able to effectively communicate to people at all levels. To paraphrase Einstein, ‘if you can’t explain it to a child, you don’t understand it.’

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

Here at SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we help progressive leaders to bring their organization’s values and purpose to life in the workplace. The award winning 31Practices approach helps you to bring values to life at an organizational or self-development level. This can be combined with the unique SERVICEBRAND approach helping to cultivate and embed values driven leadership and alignment throughout organizations. We are here to support your development, to help you have the difficult conversations and become the best leader you can be.

`