Most corporate entities are not purpose/mission driven; they are profit focused. Most companies have a set of stated values, but they are not lived. The list of corporate scandals coming out of the woodwork grows longer and longer. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. These scandals blatantly show that certain individuals have not lived their organisation’s values. Instead they have greedily looked after themselves, to the detriment of the ordinary employee.
Times are however changing. Tech advancement will dramatically revolutionize the status quo. Not tomorrow, today. The time that it takes to hear about these disingenuous (at best) individual’s activities is getting quicker and quicker. Soon it will be real time. Total transparency is almost here. Any deviation from stated and agreed values driven behavior will be noticed, reported and acted upon.
We are seeing disruptive technologies that are boosting transparency in a number of areas. Real time colleague-on-colleague reviews ensure instant feedback on interactions, tasks or projects. Big data collection, collation, reporting and insight summaries highlight issues in super fast time. AI and bots are strengthening controls, as will block-chain when it becomes mainstream in a few years. Social media enhancements and adoption mean that behaviour not aligned to culture will be flagged, almost instantly. Fantastic engagement and collaboration tools ensure great communication, two way, and again, real-time.
The days of brushing secrets under the rug are almost over. Just ask the hapless MP’s in Westminster, heads of certain charities, and dodgy directors in industry, who have been found wanting, and have paid the price. Some of them…
Let us however look at the positive side: The combination of people power and technology will drive us to levels we cannot yet comprehend. Individuals will work for companies that they believe in, and that share their values. Employees will be developed, reviewed and engaged with. Performance, and indeed profits, will also be stronger.
Oxfam’s bold and worthy vision is a just world without poverty. They have 3 stated values:
Empowerment: Our approach means that everyone involved with Oxfam, from our staff and supporters to people living in poverty, should feel they can make change happen.
Accountability: Our purpose-driven, results-focused approach means we take responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable. We believe that others should also be held accountable for their actions.
Inclusiveness: We are open to everyone and embrace diversity. We believe everyone has a contribution to make, regardless of visible and invisible differences.
Clearly, not everyone in the Oxfam confederation of affiliates was, or is, living these values, specifically the value of accountability. Who took responsibility for their actions in Haiti? Who is accountable? What about the Oxfam leadership who covered it up? The deputy CEO resigning 7 years later on does not cut it.
This scandal taints an amazing organisation, which does so much good around the world. The vast majority of people who work for Oxfam do so for all the right reasons. However there are some who were not recruited into the organisation in the right way, through matching the individual to the organisation based on values and purpose.
Oxfam leadership are all talk about change now, however the fact that they have not made the transition yet, and tried to cover up their historic failings, tells me all I need to know. The leadership team of Oxfam, like many large organisations, will struggle to make the paradigm shift to purpose and values driven management. They are constrained in their mind-sets, and need to make room for conscious leadership, who will drive the right culture, in the right way, ensuring the right individuals are matched to the organisation, and the right role. Moreover, the amazing folk who work for Oxfam need to be developed, reviewed and engaged with, in the right way, based on values.
In the future, purpose and values based management will not be a nice to have; it will be a critical organisational success factor. Actually it already is, it is just that many corporate leaders / managers do not realise it.
The first time I saw the job title: Chief People Officer, I loved it. In a split second I was a convert. Just a simple change of title radically changes the focus of the role. No longer is this person, or department, there to direct resources, which in this case is of the human variety. Now this person, or department, is there to support the people. Hear hear!
I dislike the term “Human Resources”. We are not resources or assets. We are not tools, to be used as management see fit. We are people, sentient beings, with values and aspirations. We have both a purpose and a mission. The Chief People Officer must understand this, and ensure that the right people are in the right organisation, and in the right role.
People Management stems from your organisation’s foundation: the who; why; where; what; how. The “how” is the company culture, the “how things are done around here”. People Management (not Human Resource Management) is a critical element of your company’s culture, and must be in sync with the other parts of your organisation’s foundation, otherwise there is no authenticity, there is no consistency, and your people will spot it from a mile away, and be turned off.
So it is essential that organisations understand their values/purpose/vision/mission/culture, especially the leadership team, and especially the Chief People Officer, as they are tasked with ensuring that like-minded folk are hired, are then constantly developed, regularly reviewed and always engaged with.
Like with values and culture, let’s stop talking about how important our people are, and let’s start walking the talk.
PS: Look out for my upcoming blog about 3 more important roles: the Chief Culture Office, the Chief Diversity Officer, and the Chief Futurist.
Carillion’s values are wonderful, and are represented in a stylish Venn diagram combining “We care”, “We achieve together”, “We deliver” and “We improve”. These values all overlap beautifully with “Living our Values”, which is precisely what Carillion did not do, at least their leaders didn’t.
How could they have lived their value of “we care” when they paid out huge shareholder dividends, while exposing the pension fund of hard working employees to a >GBP500m deficit?
Then there is “we achieve together”. Pur-lease! This is more about the top brass achieving big fat cat salaries and bonuses, while clearly seeing that the business was floundering.
What about “we deliver”. OK, winning tenders is fine, but only if you price them realistically, and then have the ability to deliver, otherwise you put the whole eco-system (schools, hospitals, suppliers, banks, etc) at risk, which has now happened. Let’s not even go into the ex-chairman of Carillion being one of the biggest Tory donors. I am sure that did not help them in winning contracts, surely not? Delivery has to be on a sustainable and values drive basis.
“We improve.” Really? The UK government has given over GBP2bn of contracts to Carillion since they first issued a profit warning 2 years ago. Oh, and a certain previous Chancellor, one of the big proponents of the deal, advised his new employers (a huge investment company), to short sell Carillion. Nope, Carillion have not improved in a very long time.
Whether you are a private company, a public company, or in this case, a privatised public service, living your values is critical in fulfilling the organisation’s purpose, mission and vision in a sustainable way. Not living your values could help to achieve some short-term financial goals, however the end result could be disastrous.
Is Carillion an outlier? Are most companies living their stated values, driven by their purpose, managed consciously, with people paid an appropriate amount given their worth? I am afraid not. There are many more worms in this can.
As we return from our festive season breaks, perhaps there is one task we should elevate on our priority list: Let’s think about the future. Let’s mull over what will happen in 2018, and beyond, and prepare ourselves for the seismic paradigm shifts that are on our doorstep.
The world is changing rapidly. I know people have been saying this for years, however we are now at the business end of the exponential curve. Industry is a couple of decades behind tech advancements, and therefore does not fully appreciate the resulting impact that it is going to have on society. We will see most industries and big corporations experiencing major disruptions over the next decade.
The work / life barrier has almost eroded away. It was always a façade to begin with. Some believe that the word “work” will be obsolete in the coming decades.
Organisations must move from profit to purpose; from hierarchies to networks; from controls to transparency and trust. Organisations must engage and empower their employees, allow them to experiment, and give them the freedom to come and go.
In this new work paradigm, you absolutely require values and cultural alignment. You need to constantly grow your employees, as it is predicted that children of today will change jobs over 40 times in their life-times. Colleagues should also be given instant feedback, and constant communication. We have the tools to do this, we must embrace them.
The last few years have been big, politically, socially, and environmentally. The near future is going to be crazy. Let’s get ready.
Airbnb is now the biggest hotel chain in the world, and it does not own any property. What is the secret behind their success? Many believe it to be the review process that generates trust between strangers. Enough trust for the host to allow the guest into their much-loved homes. For the guest, they have enough trust to arrive in a foreign country, and look forward to staying in a stranger’s home.
Trust is an essential ingredient for any successful company. It reduces stress levels and dramatically improves motivation and performance. Your review process will go a long way to building levels of trust in your organisation.
To clarify, I am not referring to the outmoded annual appraisal, between manager and employee. This process needs to be canned, and many progressive companies are doing so.
Reviews need to be real time, after every major task or project. They need to be conducted often. They need to be 2-way. They need to be between different people, not just between a manager and employee, but also between peers, functional and non-functional colleagues, as well as clients and suppliers, in order to give a holistic view of performance. Finally, reviews should provide feedback on values (culture), behaviours and deliverables.
The right review process will ensure a more transparent and open culture, which will improve trust levels, and create magic in the organisation. Magic is a strange word to use, however I am sure most of us can think back to when we felt magic at work, where we found flow, creativity, and performance.
As we are approaching the end of the calendar year, perhaps it is time to think about the review process in your organisation, and whether or not it needs to be “reviewed”.
Many organisations recruit well. They use values, culture, psychometrics and competency based techniques. They ensure it is a two way process, and they have the right number of relevant people involved. Is this enough to ensure a performance culture? I am afraid not.
OK, what if the company has a great on-boarding process, ensuring that the new hire is set-up for success, and is given a great induction into the organisation’s values and culture.
That’s great, but it is still not enough.
Right, many companies have comprehensive training programs, that help all employees develop their behaviours, in order to align with the company’s values and culture, as well as their technical competencies.
Again, this is good. More however is required.
So many companies have excellent review processes. Not the outmoded annual appraisal, but real-time, 2-way reviews, based on values and deliverables, between manager and employee, peers, functional and non functional colleagues, suppliers and clients. Moreover many companies also have great internal communication and engagement: 2-way, based on values, conducted regularly, using many channels and formats.
OK, so now employees have been recruited, on-boarded, trained, reviewed and engaged using values and culture. Surely this is embracing the entire employee journey? Almost, however as the gig economy becomes the normal way of working, companies also need to off-board well, again using values, in order to maintain a great relationship with their leavers, perhaps to catch that boomerang hire, and to collect vital information.
Now the circle is complete. Nowhere has the employee experience been neglected, from joining to leaving, and everything in the middle. Embracing the entire employee journey using values and culture will unleash the potential of your people, and positively impact performance. It requires demonstrating your values and culture every day in a consistent way. The rewards are immense.
I recently heard a CEO of an assessment tool company talking about how so many people are miserable at work. This is despite the recruitment process market being dominated by psychometric assessment tools to evaluate candidates, and has been the case for decades. Clearly something has not worked…
There is another way. Before the interview process, the recruiting manager should ask the short-listed candidate to identify their top 5 values, what is most important to them, the foundation of their lives, what is core to who they are. To validate the values chosen, the candidate should be asked for the behaviours that show how these values are demonstrated day to day.
The values and behaviours described by the candidate should be compared to the organisation's values and behaviours. Only if there is a significant area of overlap, should the candidate be considered for an interview. Values should then be discussed at the start of the interview, followed by personality, and then competencies.
Values cut across demographics, so will not exclude minority groups. Organisational cultural fit should not be confused with national or demographic cultures; they are completely different, so looking for cultural fit need not result in any form of discrimination. Organisational culture, the way things are done, is driven by values, purpose, goals, management, strategy and behaviours.
A degree of values alignment is absolutely necessary to develop a consistent culture, and solidarity behind the organisation's purpose. Recruiting a candidate with poor values alignment into the organisation will result in them leaving shortly after joining, or worse, they could stay and fragment the culture. According to Gallup 60% of employees are unhappy at work. Hiring someone who does not share the organisation's values or purpose will not benefit that candidate. They will not be passionate about their work, and will therefore not perform to their potential.
You do however want a mix of psychographics and personalities, to drive creativity and team effectiveness. Instead of focussing on competencies in an interview (which can easily be checked through research and references) the discussion should initially be around values, and then personality. For values, you are looking for alignment. For personality you are looking for diversity. Therefore it is important to distinguish between values and personality.
As Simon Sinek said “Your don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude, you can always teach skills.”
Most companies have a wonderful set of values, well thought out, and usually beautifully displayed in a frame on a wall, sometimes even on a brass plate, and there for everyone to admire as they enter the office.
Unfortunately many companies don’t live their values. We have a real issue in the workplace that stated values are not the same as the values that are lived day-to-day, and demonstrated or exhibited through behaviours.
This is no more or no less than a broken promise to your team. Every time a leader does something that is not in-line with the organisation’s values, they are breaking a contract that they have made to their colleagues.
Are your organisation’s values well understood? Are they being lived, and demonstrated through behaviours day-to-day? Are your organisation’s leaders personal values aligned to that of the organization?
Various studies state that 60% to 86% of employees are unhappy at work. Shocking statistics, but actually not shocking, most of us can relate. When you don’t live your values, you are not being authentic, you lose your authority, and trust breaks down. No way can you expect a motived workforce, high performance and effectiveness in this environment.
We just need to go down the list of corporate scandals that have been uncovered to get an idea of how pervasive this issue is, as we see blue chips from Volkswagen to BHS to SportsDirect exhibiting despicable practices, despite stating otherwise.
Don’t fall into this trap. If you have stated values, live by them, otherwise they could be doing more more harm than good.
Purpose driven companies, conscious capitalist organizations, values or culture led firms, whatever the term you use does not matter, these types of entities outperform the herd. The facts have been validated, triangulated, audited.
Many firms however have not made the change, either because they have not woken up to this powerful paradigm, or they do not know how to make the leap.
To make the transition, you will need to clarify your Who; your Why; your Where; your What; and your How:
• Your “who”, or your values, is critical to identify right in the beginning. What is most important to your organization; what makes you who you are; your identity.
• Then think about your “why”, your purpose. Think big! Think global issues and challenges that need resolving.
• Right, now for your “where”, your company’s vision, were do you want to be in 10, 20, 30 years?
• Now for your “what”, what are you trying to do, every day, for which stakeholder as a priority?
OK, that was a very quick run through. These are big questions, that take a while to clarify, so take your time, tackle the questions one at a time, and when done, make sure there are consistencies and balance:
I have not forgotten about your “how”. This is your culture, the “how you do things around here”. This surrounds your who, why, where and what, and is a combination of your behaviours, strategy, people management and ambitions, so the whole eco-system looks like this:
Make sense? Let me know what you think of the model, it’s hot off the press, so all comments will be much appreciated. If you would like help to transition, please also get in touch, it’s a wonderful path to take, and will take your performance to a different level.
The famous folk that we constantly hear about, the so-called successful business leaders, sports stars, and celebrities, did not get to their dizzy heights all by themselves. They have had a support team around them, an entourage, supporting them all the way. Usually the support team includes family and friends, as well as hired help, or coaches.
We all have a support team, and it is probably is bigger than we think. There are many people in our worlds that care about us, are there to have a chat with, to give us some advice, or even to offer us some help. We just have to ask. Very often we don’t, as we don’t want to burden them with our problems, we are embarrassed, or we are just too stubborn, or arrogant. Asking for help, at the right time, is something that each of us needs to get right if we really want to achieve our potential, and partnering with coach sooner rather than later, will help us immensely to do so.
I have worked with 3 coaches in my career. I have also had a number of great mentors, and some excellent line managers, who together helped guide me in my early career. Many business leaders have a number of coaches, who they work with simultaneously, tackling specific issues. Likewise for sports women and men. A professional golfer for instance will have a swing coach, a fitness/strength coach, a mental coach…and perhaps a therapist and marriage counselor…
You don’t however need to be a high-flying sports star or business leader, anyone, at any stage of their career, will benefit from partnering with a coach. Whether it is to help you become more effective, leading a team, understanding your boss, finding your purpose, attaining life balance, the list goes on and on, a coach will be able to assist. Remember, you are not the only one to have experienced these challenges; there are many others who have walked down the same path, and encountered the same issues.
If you are trying to get fit, you hire a personal trainer, if you want to get better at tennis, you hire a tennis coach, if you want to learn a new language, you go to language classes…right? So the same applies to those of us in the corporate, or entrepreneurial world. We might be doing well, but we could always do better, and partnering with someone who has a passion for people development will be one of the keys to unlocking our potential.
On a recent podcast I heard some stereotyping of work colleagues from the USA: People from LA will stab you in the back, while people from NY will punch you in the face. It reminded me of a similar saying regarding working with South Africans: South Africans don’t stab you in the back…no…they stab you in the front. Stabbing in the front, apparently, is better, as it is a less devious and more honest way of stabbing.
Being South African, I think there is something to these stereotypes. When I started my career, I was very direct; actually I think the word is aggressive. For me it was all about the task, and driving forward with pace, dragging folk along by their ears. I thought this was the best way as it was how I was brought up, it was how I was trained, and it was what I observed during my first few jobs. I would pride myself in that I might not be the most popular person in the office, but I would be the most effective. I was wrong.
There is in fact a better way, a much better way of working, that involves no stabbing nor any punching, either in the front or back. It’s about treating our colleagues compassionately and fairly. It is about making an effort to understand your colleagues’ context, what are his or her motivations, their experiences, and thereby the reason why they have formed a specific point of view.
Compassion and fairness are two of The Talent Cloud’s founding values, which should be no surprise as we are a conscious business. These values make for a happier and fun work environment, and we are more effective, as being more empathetic improves our ability to collaborate.
When in a tricky, subjective, ambiguous situation, giving consideration to both the message and how it is conveyed makes us more impactful. This approach will help you with leading an organization, driving change, motivating a team, and more. I was given this advice early on in my career. Too bad I did not give it more consideration. I would have been a more impactful manager if I had.
How many people in the world are purpose-driven? I think the answer is all of us, we just don’t know it. Perhaps a better question is how many of us actually know what our purpose is? What is our “why”? What is our personal mission? The follow up, and best, question is then how many of us are leading purpose driven lives? Here I believe the answer is not that many, and fewer still have occupations that are aligned to purpose, and this is a travesty.
The amazing power of our humanity is only truly unlocked when we follow our heart-centered purpose, as then we work tirelessly with motivation and positivity. After a hard day at the office we don’t drag ourselves home, we bounce home with vigor and excitement. The false distinction between work and life blurs, it all becomes one. We don’t work-to-live, or live-to-work, we live…with purpose.
We will exude energy, our enthusiasm will be infectious, and we will be annoyingly happy. We will work more compassionately, and treat all our stakeholders fairly, as it is not just about the goal; it is also about how we get there. We will see our colleagues as friends, who we want to help, and who help us. Oh the upsides are huge, off the chart.
So how do we find out what our purpose is? A lucky few know their purpose from an early age. Others, like myself, have to work it out. The following may help. Jot down 4-5 succinct bullet points, the first thing that comes to your mind, in each of the following headings:
• Identify your vision - where you want to be
• List out your values - what is important to you
• Describe your personality traits, how you behave, how others perceive you
• What are your passions – what you love to do
• Note down your heroes and inspirers
Now look for the consistent themes in the above elements, what is the red line that ties everything together and then try to capture the essence in a short statement. It might take some time, don’t rush, and let the process happen organically.
Sooner or later you will land on a self-mission or purpose statement that will help guide your future endeavors. Some believe the 2 most important days of your life is the day you were born, and the day you discover why you were born.