In the course of my work I’ve visited hundreds of organisations. There are some that stand out as brilliant places to work. They are also excellent in terms of their results. The one factor they all have in common is how their values ‘live’ in every action and every decision their teams and leaders make. Values are not simply a statement nailed to the wall. They are practiced in all activity throughout the business. Everyone is pulling in the same direction.
The shadow side
There is a wonderful book by Gerad Egan: ‘Managing the shadow side’ which highlights the gulf which exists between the picture painted by the leadership and the reality of life on the shop floor. On two occasions I have delivered a keynote presentation about values which have had unintended consequences. I always ask ‘When have you ever been unhappy at work? What was it that made you unhappy with the organisation?’ This is often an indication that personal values are at odds with either the values of the organisation or the values of the shadow side. On these two occasions I was approached at the end by people who realised that they needed to move on and find a new job. Their values were no longer supported by the business.
Values based selection
At the heart of a values-based business is, not surprisingly, the values of the people in that business. This means selection of people who can support these values is critical. You can train and refine people’s skills but you can’t train attitude. Choosing team members who fit the values of the organisation is something values-based business work hard to do well. Traditionally the HR team will find suitable candidates for a position based on their self-declared skills, experience and qualifications. The final selection must find the candidates who share the values of the organisation.
One of the most interesting ways of doing this I witnessed was at Rackspace who always gave candidates time alone to draw a picture about themselves. Drawing skills were not important, it was the content of the picture that was interesting. It became the focus of the interview conversation and helped people talk freely about themselves. This gave the opportunity to elicit whether their values would fit with the Rackspace values and they would be happy working in the team.
AVA to discover those who fit the values of your team
We don’t advocate the Rackspace method. That was very much part of their culture. We often use an AVA tool to help HR teams whittle the number of candidates down to those who will fit well with the organisation. We also use AV’s in Leadership programmes to help teams and leaders work cooperate better by better understanding how they think and prefer to communicate amongst other things. Call us today to arrange AVAs for your teams.
Values based businesses have a massive advantage in our current economic climate. The values hold teams together and give an element of certainty which enables everyone to pull in the same direction. Your business values will be at the root of giving teams resilience.