I always understood values and the importance of having values, and having walked into a multitude of South African companies and noticing their values up on their walls, I knew I was not alone in this understanding.
Throughout my working life I have noticed and come to know more about values than seeing them displayed on walls:
Values are easy to publish or claim.
Values are not always evident.
Values are rarely tracked or measured.
Values are not always the common within a team.
Values are not always what is valued.
The last point above became evident to me on becoming aware of two objective assessments of what it is that people truly value:
1) How they spend their money.
2) Where they spend their time.
With the above in mind, one can start to notice what people, teams and companies truly value. Don’t judge what they value by what is published or claimed in the marketing collateral, rather judge what is valued by how they spend their money and how they spend their time.
A large IT organisation can easily claim to value innovation. A window into their innovation spend of both time and money will tell you more.
Life balance goes out when parents begin to value their relationships with the children more than the value they place on the inter-parent relationship.
It is clear that not everyone places the same value on motor cars or watches. People value alcohol differently. Business leaders place varying importance on time out, on exercise, on healthy eating.
See how people who value seeing the latest movies on the big screen will not be prepared to wait for it to appear on DSTV.
Taking a look at some of the more problematic values companies have, when what is published and where time or money is spent are different:
- Teamwork – most companies treat teamwork as something which can be taken for granted. We have people – people make up teams – we have a team.
- Customer service – any organisation that values company service would set time aside to design Standard Operating Procedures around Customer Service. They would constantly train their team members in the art of delivering exceptional service and they would recognize the people who do and retrain the people who do not.
- Planning – everyone will tell you that failing to plan is planning to fail but the number of team members you will find working an actual plan is few and far between.
- Clear communication – in 22 years of facilitation, I have not yet come across an organisation that gets this right. They want it but do they concentrate effort on it.
Wanting something and doing what it takes to achieve it are not the same thing.
Wanting followed by due effort and due Investment is different.
Some personal examples:
I have wanted to harvest the olives we have in our garden for a week already. I would have continued to want to do it if it had not been for the time allocated to picking them earlier.
I wanted to build a more sustainable product mix in Ripple but nothing would have happened had we not decided to invest in the right resource to make such a move possible.
I value my relationship with Caroline, what Ripple stands for, independence, inter dependence, trips into the wilderness, long term customer relationships, making a difference through facilitation, music and much more. When I do a simple review of my priorities when spending time or money, I can see the degree to which I have value integrity – when what I claim to value is what I actually value.
I used to value photography and as a result SLR cameras – now I am content with my phone camera so I no longer spend money on cameras. I used to value watching international sporting events like Wimbledon and limited over Cricket but they are now longer valued. I value other things more.
If you value the idea of value integrity then allocate some time to do the stock take – list what you value and compare the list against your biggest time spenders and your biggest money spenders.
I hope you will find that you are aligned or the will to align. You may even find that you just need to restate you values and gain alignment that way.
By Louis Gerke
Development Facilitator – The Ripple Effect
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