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April 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

Want A Great Culture? Make Your Values Actionable – Part 2

Want a Great Culture Blog-Part 2

When you make your values actionable they come alive and become the foundation for your organization’s culture. Today we will explore the common trap most organizations fall into and how you can avoid it and promote your values at the same time.

For many years, I worked at a large insurance company. There was an inside joke that you weren’t officially an employee until the human resources (HR) department had created a policy or procedure because of one of your actions. For example; one of our friends decided to bring their George Forman grill to work one day. An innocent grilled cheese ended with a call to the fire department and a burnt cubicle wall. Days later HR published a new policy that outlawed all small appliances in our cubicles. My buddy had officially arrived, they had a HR policy un-officially named after him.

While this story is a bit comical, I am sure you have seen similar behavior in the past. Someone does something wrong; someone puts a policy or procedure in place to prevent it from happening again. Unfortunately, these policies and procedures start to add up and suddenly there is a hundred plus page document detailing what you can and cannot do at work. These documents are jokes for several reasons:

  • They tend to get people’s hands, but not their hearts and minds because people are afraid to do anything that might violate a rule
  • Micro-managers quote them as they go around policing everyone’s actions
  • They are so long, no-one ever really reads them anyway

It wasn’t that long ago that a situation arose in my company. We were running an Agile Leadership class in Miami, Florida, and the facility we were using only provided valet parking. The valet parking was expensive and could potentially put our clients out. This issue was brought to my attention by one of our team members, Nicole. Nicole told me that the facility would offer us a discount on the valet services if we pre-paid for the service. This was an unbudgeted expense and would cut into our profit margin for the class.

Rather than tell Nicole what to do, I remined her of our company value #4 – Extreme Customer Service. I told her to keep this value in mind and make the best decision for everyone. By pointing her back to our company value the following benefits emerged:

  • Nicole grew as a leader because she got to make a decision in-line with the values of the organization
  • I got to step out of the decision making process and leave it to Nicole who was closer to the pulse of our clients
  • Our clients were happy because they got free valet parking

Next time you see an issue in your organization what will you do? Will you add another policy or procedure? Or will you make your values actionable by allowing your team members to make decisions based upon them?

Brian Rabon, CST, PMP

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