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What are your organisation’s values, and who really values them?

The past 18 months have thrown up challenges for teams that we haven’t encountered in the past which provides a great opportunity to review.

Grab your organisation’s values and read them out. Then think about whether that aligns to what you’ve noticed over the past year and a half.

I had a conversation last week that made me stop and think. Emma (in People and Culture in a medium-sized business) was inquiring as to whether our program might be a good fit for their organisation as they emerged from the Sydney lockdown.

Emma said that some of their teams had managed working from home and the associated lack of face-to-face contact well, and some hadn’t. Some continued to interact and provide support for their team-mates, whilst others ‘had to be e-mailed to check that they were still alive’.

Our conversation shifted to their corporate values which they are in the process of ‘refreshing’. One of those values is Connected. We talked about what this meant and then more importantly, how they lived it. Her answer was familiar in some ways because we tend to hear it a lot,

“We induct people into our values when they start, but we don’t tend to do much with our values unless it’s a conversation during performance reviews.”

So if we don’t talk about them with one another, how can we expect people to value them?

We tend to put time and energy into the things that matter so if our values really matter, why don’t we invest that time?

When we are working with our clients, we encourage teams to focus on agreed behaviours rather than values. The adage that ‘Your actions speak so loudly in my ears; I cannot hear a word you say’ rings true.

Values are great, but it’s our actions that count. So, let’s agree on the actions/behaviours that will make our team great, and once we’ve done that let’s actually use them!

I explained this very simple (it can’t be that easy!) process to a couple of executives in a business development meeting in Melbourne a few years ago and one of them said to me, “Oh yes, we’ve already done that.” I replied, ‘Great, what are they?’ and then tried to fill a few awkward minutes whilst he scrolled through his iPad trying to find them.

Agreed behaviours are only useful if they are used, and that means we use them in having genuine conversations with one another that help us to review performance.

Organisations who properly invest in this process would have defined connected.

When COVID hit and everyone began working at home, they would be asking questions. What does being connected look like for us now? Who’s living it the best? Who needs our help?

The closing stages of 2021 can be a great time to get your team together (hopefully face-to-face) and ask the question. Are our values valuable, and if not, what can we do about it?

If you have to send out the search party to find your team mates it might already be too late!

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