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May 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

Want A Great Culture? Make Your Values Actionable – Part 3

Want a great culture blog- part 3

Want A Great Culture? Make Your Values Actionable – Part 3

So far in this series we have explored two techniques for making our values actionable:

  1. Hiring and firing by values
  2. Guiding behavior by empowering our team to make values-based decisions

You might be thinking, what happens when the wheels come off the bus and we fail to live up to our values? You might be surprised how fast your culture can erode when a key leader fails to live up to one or more of your values.

The other day we made a big mistake… We added a Certified Agile Leader® class in a new and untested market, New York City. At first, we started to get some traction, to our surprise 3 people signed-up rather quickly. Then as we got closer to the class date 2 people decided not to attend and asked for refunds. With only 3 weeks out and 1 person registered we were forced to cancel the class, something we never like to do. When we decide to cancel a class we typically do several things:

  • Nicole removes the class form Eventbrite, our class registration system
  • Michael removes the class from our website, centerforagileleadership.com
  • Dan calls all remaining class participants and tries to offer them seats in a future Certified Agile Leader® class or give them a refund

All sounds normal, right? Well unfortunately a critical step was missed, Dan never contacted the client to let him know that the class was being cancelled.

At the last minute, the client reached out via Eventbrite to find out more about the upcoming class. For some reason only one of our team members, Maryann got the notification, which she forwarded out on a Saturday. I saw the notification and assumed that one of my team members, either Dan or Nicole, would jump right on it. Well unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

Dan was traveling Sunday and helping with another class on Monday and Tuesday. It wasn’t until Tuesday that he got a call from a frantic Nicole about what to do for this poor, uniformed student. They discussed options and separately Dan asked me what I would suggest we do about it. At this point I was quite shocked that after discovering the issue on Saturday no-one had taken any action until Tuesday. I still deferred the decision back to Dan and Nicole to do-the-right-thing.

Here was the aftermath:

  • Nicole reluctantly called the client and because she felt so bad offered them thousands of dollars’ worth of remuneration
  • Nicole called me very upset about the lack of support from Dan in dealing with the situation
  • Nicole asked me to call the client and offer my personal apologies, which I did
  • I called Nicole back to mentor her on how to handle difficult customer service issues in the future

The lesson in this story:

Our core value #4 is Extreme Customer Service, no one on my team, including myself lived up to this value in this incident. What could have been a minor notification to a client turned into an all-out explosion that; cost us thousands of dollars, caused multiple painful conversations, and distracted us from doing our core work of helping others to grow. All because key leadership didn’t live up to our value. So, if you want to have a great company culture based on core values, be sure that you can commit to living those values. Your team is watching and when you aren’t living your values they notice, if this happens too many times then your culture will erode and you will lose ground.

Time to ask the questions, “Are you willing to live up to your company values all the time?”

Brian Rabon, CST, PMP

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