Mission Statements. Team Goals. Our Vision. Sound familiar? They seem to have become extremely trendy for businesses to have in recent years, like office bean bags, communal dogs, and clapping in a circle at the start of your shift to promote a harmonious work environment. You normally find that these Rules to Live By are written in letters forty feet high and positioned where EVERYONE can see them for every minute of their working life, like an omnipresent villain.
But regardless of their message, does anyone actually take any notice of them or are we desensitised to them? The best way to answer that is by looking to the business owners; are the values something that they genuinely want to aspire to, or are they doing it because a TED talk on YouTube told them to do it to make their wallets fatter?
You can measure this by the level of engagement the owners have with their employees and how they themselves uphold their own values. Is it a case of ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ or is it more ‘Lead by example’ and ‘Practice what you preach?’ In my own experience, it’s very much the former, but in my current position, I can honestly say (to keep that P45 in the drawer) that my gaffers pretty much nail their values.
I just want to explore them with you briefly. They’re not re-inventing the wheel here, but the values that they want us to uphold make for an awesome atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if you work in an office, on a construction site, as a carer, or flying a plane, every single one of these values is pertinent to creating a happy, productive workforce… which is essential when you’re with your colleagues for between 8 and 12-hours a day.
Every business wants you to work hard – it’s a business! What’s harder to achieve is making the employees work hard because they themselves want to. Hard work garners tangible results. Hard work creates discipline. Hard work gives you a sense of achievement. Most of all, though, if a team can see that their bosses are working hard then they will follow suit. There’s nothing more frustrating than a boss who sits in their ivory towers all day and only leaves to bark at people. Hard work begets hard work.
This one is often overlooked as a desirable trait as it’s not as flashy as confidence, but it’s just as valuable. The ability to admit you’re wrong, asking questions if you don’t understand something, being able to take advice and being humble enough to learn something new are all signs of humility. Someone who can take their ego out of the equation and be malleable enough to make the team better overall as a result of it is an asset every team should have.
Kind of a no-brainer this one. You’ve heard the saying ‘There’s no I in TEAM’ – a bit groan-inducing, but it’s true. A team that has each other’s backs, has a laugh together, supports each other in tough times and are willing to go the extra mile for each other can conquer the world. A galvanised team will always be stronger than robust individuals, regardless of how good that person is. You’re only as good as the people around you, so ignore the power of a strong team spirit at your peril.
So many businesses treat their staff like dirt and are then amazed when their staff don’t want to work hard for them. Read that sentence again and then try to take in the absurdity of it; what’s even more absurd is that it’s rife in millions of businesses. Look after your workforce and your workforce will look after you – a bit of quid pro quo. Let people have time off for doctor’s appointments; don’t act like they’ve asked you to cut out one of your kidneys when they say that they need to pick their sick child up from school; understand if they’ve had a bereavement and can’t function properly. More than that, though, create an environment that encourages a positive mentality and just watch people flourish and excel for you.
So, the next time you see your company values, or are thinking of defining your own, stop and consider for a moment: do they inspire people to be the best they can be? If the words ring hollow, then the chances are those values will be like the office dog;
A good idea in principle, but can just as easily crap on your workforce.