Tag: values driven

Alignment and Inclusion

In this next blog exploring alignment in the landscape of the Values Economy, we’ll be looking at how inclusion can boost organizational alignment and consumer engagement by putting people first and empowering them through representation.

Inclusion

Being an inclusive organization provides significant benefits, from gaining a competitive edge by hiring from diverse pools of talent, to attracting a wider audience and consumer base from different communities.

We use the term Inclusion rather than ‘diversity’ because we believe that just having diverse people is not enough. Diversity and inclusion are not synonymous and, to be worthwhile, the two must go hand in hand. This means that while organizations can work hard to hire people from different backgrounds at all levels, it is all meaningless tokenism unless these people’s voices are heard.

Time and time again, research into the benefits of inclusive organisation has shown a positive result across the board.

· Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time

· Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions twice as fast with half the meetings

· Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results

More diverse companies are better able to attract top talent, improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making. This is likely to become even more important in the future as demand will grow for skills such as analytical thinking, innovation, active learning, creativity, collaboration and complex problem-solving, while rote skills and easily repeatable tasks will be shunted off to automation.

Inclusivity can be a challenging area, if your organization has only focused its attention in one direction for a long time, the changes necessary to include others can and often do challenge the most toxic parts of organizational culture. Marginalised peoples and communities have long been the subject of water cooler talk, an exercise in bonding as the butt of a joke.

Why inclusion matters

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the perfect present for the test of our civilization.” M K Gandhi

Values-driven inclusion is so important because the effort will not succeed if people in the minority don’t feel safe to be themselves. It is estimated that over 50% of people who identify as LGBTQ remain in the closet or diminish their true selves to fit in better at work, to avoid being the subject of rumours, gossip, and workplace bullying.

Several HR and D&I leaders struggle, to the point of paralysis, to have a conversation about race at work. Sometimes they either do not know where to start or are unable to convince their leaders of why this is so important. Other areas of diversity and inclusion such as age, disability and social class seem to receive less attention and others such as neurodiversity are receiving long overdue recognition due to increased levels of knowledge, understanding and awareness.

Inclusion encourages a wider perspective across all stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, local communities etc) to consider the benefits for individuals, organizations, and wider society beyond the traditional business performance metrics.

As mentioned in the previous blog on the Fourth Revolution, data collection and management processes can play a powerful role in equipping organisations with the right information to understand, support and include everyone from the ground up.

Aligning values with inclusion

A recurring theme we have noticed is a tendency for diversity and inclusion initiatives to stand alone or exist in isolation and not reflect the organization’s purpose, values, and priorities. Including people is not a gimmick or marketing tool, to create inclusive rhetoric, when the organisation does not build and live practises designed to support consumers, service users and employees, and will always result in the minority being further marginalised, while empowering the majority to retain toxic workplace cultures that promote exclusion and division. This not only has a social impact but a definite financial one.

Bringing your values into alignment with inclusive practices requires patience, mutual awareness and understanding. It is not a race to collect the most tokens, but instead it is a sincere effort to recognise the unique humanity of everyone that will engage with your organization.

Avoid box ticking, while acronyms for protected characteristics like BAME and LGBTQ, are important and necessary, intersectionality is far more individual and complex. Asking someone to speak for their entire ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual identity is reductive and limiting. When you align your organization with the values you truly represent, it will build an atmosphere of inclusion, one where everyone that uses your service will be aware of being valued for their unique humanity, not begrudgingly served because they have to be.

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND approach can help you to align your values with inclusive practises that allow everyone to feel respected and treated fairly. We believe in a holistic and individual approach to build employee engagement initiatives that go beyond the stand alone, unconnected one day seminars telling people what to do, rather than showing them the benefits of full and proper inclusion.

Alignment and 4IR


The fourth revolution

Over the coming weeks, this blog will explore the relevance and importance of organizational alignment against the landscape of the new paradigm we refer to as the Values Economy. Starting us off this week is the fourth revolution and its potential impacts in an evermore and ever rapidly advancing techno-society.

4IR

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the banner name covering advances being made in areas like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, biogenetic engineering, and the internet, to name a few. More simply put, 4IR covers the way in which our world is moving from a purely physically industrial planet to one in which the lines between digital, biological, and physical technologies are overlapped.

Data is king

With the advent of social media, businesses and organizations found a main line directly to their customers consciousness. Now all our decisions are tracked across the internet, every time we search for something on Google, like a photo or make a comment, that data is collected and fed into algorithms that in turn offer more targeted ads, based on what we like to see and our predictability of making a purchasing.

The amount of data being collected is enormous, even in some instances the time to the micro-second we spend paused on an ad or picture while scrolling, and factors into what we are likely to be shown next.

Individual alignment

At one level, this might be of great benefit for advertisers and data gatherers, and even for the general public in terms of accessibility to desired content. However, the conversation might be different if we begin to centre it around the concept of values. It has never been easier for organisations to reach us with their messages, but to what extent does their influence apply to the things we believe in and value?

There is proven power in brand alignment. When we feel aligned with an organization’s values, we are more likely to spend with them, talk about them and remain loyal to their brand. But are we aligned to the authentic reality of that brand image? Or merely to a carefully tailored presentation that targets us cleverly and, perhaps, individually.

Do you see your favourite brands in the same way as somebody else and is it possible that you falsely assume that the same picture is being shown to everybody in a consistent way when it might not be?

Putting Data to Use

Use of data isn’t always an insidious erosion of our personal freedom. Often, people accept the data being gathered as the price they pay for better and more intuitive services. They trust and feel aligned to that organization’s purpose. Businesses like Netflix for example, spend millions on data collection and algorithm generation, to offer better content choices to their customers.

This kind of personalisation means almost everyone is individually seeing the kind of content they are likely to watch without having to do a lot of scrolling and searching for it.

Developing features like ‘continue watching’ also help develop customer experience by making us feel more in control of the platform, and thus able to drop in and out at our leisure; if it makes us feel good, we are far more likely to do it. It serves Netflix too, in the billions of dollars in savings they achieve through retaining loyal customers. For some of Netflix’s competitors. where content is not as accessible and intuitive, this is a serious disadvantage.

Customer Alignment and Trust

As more people become aware of the volume of data being collected about them, they begin to feel more uncertain about whether or not their trust has been put in the right places. With 83% of people believing that trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy.

‘Hard to build, easy to break.’ This phrase sums up the experience of building trust in any business or organisation. They need to be able to prove that they have the customer’s best interest at heart; that the data they are collecting is only used to tailor customer experience for the benefit of the customer, not for the organization to profiteer on.

People feel aligned with Netflix because they get offered the content they desire and are reassured their money is going back into creating the kind of content they want to see more of. This ‘trust us and we’ll keep giving you want you want’ business model has served Netflix well.

The case cannot be made the same for other organisations that make no attempt to align with their customers beliefs and values, instead choosing to push content and products on them that they don’t want or need. Or worse still use the technology to alter public opinion.

Focus

4IR is changing the world, the way we live, work, and express ourselves is shifting, as the line between reality and the online space blurs. Organizations that navigate this frontier successfully will be those that move and grow with a clear sense of shared values. Values practically applied to align with consumer and service user needs in a positive way, focusing on them as people and not as profit.

There are repercussions for developing the appropriate leadership skills and education and training systems in a world where skillset will become an increasingly transient commodity. There is also a shift from traditional organizations with fixed structures to ecosystems which are networks of organizations involved in the delivery of a specific product or service. Unexpected alliances are forged, sector boundaries blur, and long-standing strengths count for less.

SERVICEBRAND

This is where the SERVICEBRAND approach can create significant value because, irrespective of the various stakeholders, the focus remains: delivering a brand aligned customer experience through one team of brand ambassadors, supported by effective and robust systems and processes, and measurement and insight. The framework helps to keep technological advancement ‘in check’ and viewed as a support tool rather than one that takes on a life of its own.

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.

Values and Governance

Word Cloud with Corporate Governance related tags

Your organisation’s values are the heart and foundation upon which everything you do is built. They serve as signposts or as a compass, guiding the way to fulfilling your organisation’s mission and purpose.

When you have strong organisational values, they shape how your organisation runs and is governed, allow your employees to feel aligned and connected, and make it simpler for customers to build a bond with you, when they know clearly who you are and what values you stand by.

Values-driven Culture

Having a values-driven culture means having clear and present organisational values that enable employees to align with your organisation emotionally as well as physically. Centring your company culture around your values will bring your entire workforce together to deliver on your mission and purpose.

With 94% of executives and 88% of employees believing a strong culture at work is important in a successful organisation, there has never been a better time to ask yourself, who are you and what does your company value.

Culture can be created and driven from both ends of the employee scale. New employees don’t learn about company culture from leaflets and 5-minute briefings. They learn by observing the behaviours of the leaders and colleagues around them, especially long serving ones.

Even though it is the leadership and governance teams that decide the culture and direction of the organisation, it will be the employees that are responsible for embodying those messages and passing them on to customers through their words and most importantly their behaviour and actions.

If you want a strong values-driven culture, ask yourself; do I really know and believe in my organisation’s values? Do I behave in a way that aligns with them? Or only pay them lip service.

The most important thing to remember when creating a healthy workplace culture is that ‘do as I say’ cultures are hardly ever successful in the long term, they breed resentment and unfairness among the organisation and are a barrier to full employee alignment. When you focus on a ‘do as I do’ approach and embody your values in all you say and do, your employees and customers will recognise and reward it.

What makes for good governance?

Understanding values and why they are important can also help play a role in establishing and maintaining good governance at your organisation. There are five key considerations, that serve well as a structure within which to plan culture and behaviour going forward.

The first of these is fairness. Any organisational planning that takes place needs to frame your company values in how they affect everyone that engages with you. Planning that only considers the needs of senior management will always result in an unhealthy culture, especially when other employees taking part in the work are not represented or treated equally.

They say ‘the bad’ always rolls downhill. This kind of culture is completely toxic to an organisation’s performance. Cultures of blame and blame shifting don’t serve anyone and only hurt the relationship between different levels of employees. Take accountability for your plans and actions. If something is going wrong, don’t ask “what did they do wrong”, ask, “what did I do wrong?” Especially if you are in a position of power and influence. What could you do to better communicate the values and culture of the organisation so that failings are mitigated?

Good governance needs responsible thought and action. It requires people who are able to see the whole picture and willing to bear the weight that comes with being both a governor and a leader. Too often, governors don’t get involved at all levels. Ask yourself, when was the last time I spoke to a customer or front-facing colleague?

The last two are the hardest to find among organisation culture. Having the integrity to do the right thing, (even when it costs) and the transparency to be open and honest when mistakes are made.

The pandemic highlighted this in a dramatic way. The organisations that have been most successful at navigating these complex and unexpected developments, are those that have spoken publicly and honestly to their uncertainty.

Employees, customers, and shareholders, it turns out, all much prefer organisations that are transparent, even when faced with challenges, compared with those that would hide how badly affected they are. Publicly doing the right thing can be hard, its hard to predict how others will react, but overall being honest builds trust and allows people to feel aligned with and bonded to the culture of the organisation because of it.

What can you do to encourage the above approach as a framework for effective governance? You might have noticed that we have not referred to audit, inspection, and reporting because, whilst these might have a place, they represent a means to an end and need to be handled with care to avoid an unintended consequence (which might be the opposite of the objective!). Focus on what you can do to move away from box ticking to pass inspections, or blame shifting to shirk responsibility and move into well considered, authentic governance. Quality governance is a combination of heart and head, in that order.

SERVICEBRAND

Why not connect with us and see how the SERVICEBRAND approach can help you determine the right courses of action when the desired standards aren’t being met and transform sentiment and platitudes into real and affirmative action.

Values and Reconnection post COVID-19

Some of the greatest ‘awakenings’ in the world have come about as a result of disruption. Disruptive events allow for a brief surfacing, a moment of crisis that generates a pause, and in that pause, there is space for reflection and rumination on what is truly important, as well as room for spontaneous and adaptable inspiration to strike.

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.

The measures taken to combat COVID-19 enforced a new normal of separation and isolation. As we are gradually emerging from this crisis, perhaps we will come back together with a new and better understanding of who we are and what truly matters to us.

We are shaped by what we care about, the way people feel about their offices, homes and work are important factors in the overall success of the organization. Employees who feel their values are being met, those that are engaged by a clear and consistent set of values with which to align themselves are far more likely to be reliable, productive, and fulfilled.

Employee disconnection

Individuals and organizations face disruptions all the time, sometimes they are minor and manageable, like the retirement of valued colleagues or supply chain issues. Other times they are more serious, like the recent wave of increased cyber-attacks, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the most startling findings to come out of the pandemic, and the rapid shift to remote working, has been the dramatic increase in productivity. At a time when people were panicked about trusting their employees to continue performing well without near constant oversight, they have risen to the occasion with over 71% of organisations saying that remoting work either boosted their productivity or didn’t limit it.

Identifying values

Communication is key in identifying values. A select group of senior leaders distributing a list of values and demanding that employees embody them is not likely to be successful (surely no organization would entertain such an approach – you might be surprised!). Neither is it necessary (nor sometimes appropriate) for all employees to have the same degree of influence in making the decision. What is required is clear and consistent communication explaining the process to arrive at the values, the reasons behind it and the opportunity for questions and answers..

Communication can be tricky. As William H Whyte said in ‘Fortune’ magazine in 1950 “The great enemy of communication, we find, is the illusion of it.” Having a full office doesn’t necessarily mean you have good communication, and, in the same way, having remote workers doesn’t always mean they will be left out of the loop to fend for themselves.

Seeking to identify your organizations values will help to drive performance (and profitability), by aligning everyone with the same sense of collectively built purpose and establishing ‘the way things work around here’.

What matters to me?

Before we are able to fit in with a group, we need to spend some time identifying what matters to us as individuals. The impact of the pandemic forced a dramatic shift in consciousness, with many people reassessing the relative importance of family and work and some realising that an office environment is not the most suitable for them.

Figuring out what matters to us is not an easy task and it can become more of a challenge when we try to then align ourselves with an employer that fits our self-perception and matches our values. In the long term however, this values aligned approach can lead to greater clarity and a sense of fulfilment.

Hybrid disruption

Some people thrive in a fast-paced office environment with clearly marked start and finish times, while others prefer working in solitude at a pace that is suitably flexible to their needs. How well your organization manages the balance between rigid structure and flexibility will define how well it bounces back from the disruption of the pandemic.

According to Microsoft, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to stay, but this is contrasted with 67% who also want more in-person office work/collaborations. This study highlights what we are all becoming aware of; Hybrid work is here to stay. But care needs to be taken not to make this a binary conversation about working in the office and working from home. The place of work is just one dimension, and the real question is “How can leaders enable employees to be as productive as possible, individually, and collectively, in delivering the organization’s values, purpose and business objectives?”

Flexibility will be the key to navigating this new normal. Changing from a micromanaged office environment to a hybrid one is going to take some getting used to. But it also presents an opportunity to dial your values, and to practise trust with your employees. If your purpose as an organization has been clearly communicated, and your values are lived, it becomes easier to trust your employees to make decisions aligned with that ethos.

Inclusivity

Inclusivity is not about micro managing, it’s about well-being, ensuring that all colleagues, whether working from the office or remotely, know they can count on the support they need when they need it. Are you making sure that remote workers are still offered a (video) seat at the table, to keep them represented and involved. How will you protect office colleagues from bearing an unfair amount of the workload purely due to their proximity or ease of access.

It will be trial and error, and a strong set of working values will help align everyone with new working practices and minimise the risk of an ‘us verse them’ culture developing.

Lastly, don’t panic, people had similar reservations and fears when adapting to the increase of a night team/working culture, but over time that has become a key part of our infrastructure, as Hybrid arrangements are becoming now.

SERVICEBRAND

The impact of COVID-19 has demonstrated how we are much less restrained by location and traditional working hours than we previously thought. It has helped us see how we can build fit for purpose work environments in our living rooms and offices, to maintain our organisations in a time of severe uncertainty.

Having everyone in the same room doesn’t automatically mean they are connected; the connection comes from a sense of shared values. These values support employee security, wellbeing, confidence, and resilience, while also driving performance to achieve the organization’s purpose and objectives. To see how the SERVICEBRAND approach might help you build values-based connections in your hybrid workforce, please get in touch.

Preparing for World Values Day – Values in Action

On Thursday, 15th October, the annual World Values Day will once again inspire individuals, businesses and communities to think about their most deeply held beliefs. The challenges of 2020 have made the values that move us at the core more critical than ever.

There’s a lesson to be learnt from this year’s theme, ‘Values in Action’. It is a call to bringing values to life through more than words and implement the habits and behaviours that will turn beliefs into long-lasting results. We use the phrase “Values are for living not laminating”.

In celebration of values, we will be discussing the importance of our beliefs in organisations.

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Values Are For Living, Not Laminating

The Grenfell inquiry has recently heard witnesses from Rydon, the contractor which took on the design and build responsibility for the Grenfell Tower project from April 2014 onwards.  A number of news stories were covered:

  • Rydon sought to keep more than £100,000 of the savings made by switching to the deadly aluminium composite material cladding on Grenfell Tower by hiding the true costs from its client.
  • The Rydon contract manager was described as using ‘Essex boy patter’ to push the cheaper cladding option for Grenfell.
  • There were some issues between Rydon employees and  ‘vocal and aggressive’ Grenfell residents who complained about fire safety
  • Rydon’s project manager was unable to explain the presence of “shockingly poor workmanship” on cavity barriers in the cladding system installed on the building.
  • It is interesting to note that Rydon Group website states the following:
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4 mistakes “values-driven” organizations make

In the six years since the first edition of The 31 Practices book was published, the topic of values has caught the imagination all over the world.  It has become fashionable for organizations to describe themselves as values-driven and yet, for the stakeholders (employees, customers, service partners, local communities, investors, members, citizens) of some, if not many, of these organizations, there is a disconnect between the aspirational words and the experienced reality. To quote the legendary baseball coach, Yogi Berra “In theory there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice, there is”.

So why is it such a challenge to be a values-driven organisation… in practice?  Here are four mistakes organizations can make, and you might be able to add more to the list.   Consider the questions in each section and how they relate to your own organization.

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