Having worked in many diverse industries over fifteen years, I have learnt a lot from listening to thousands of people describe what they value at work.  Organisations often put their values on walls and then embed those values through competency-based appraisals, one-to-ones and within the recruitment and selection processes. Holding annual recognition awards, creating and celebrating individuals and teams who ‘live the values’.

All this is essential and necessary creating a rhythm to normalise the values. Yet, one item still baffles me; why do we have so many values that can be misinterpreted through personal perceptions? That’s why we have clarifying statements, I hear you say! The sub text that describes the behaviour for the value of ‘respect’ for example. Yet, are these values not a given? Are these values of ‘listen’, ‘creative’, ‘bold’ a given within work organisations?

I have seen hundreds of company/organisations values, and do you know what? They all seem so obvious. I mean, they are a given! Trust, respect, creativity, focus, care, collaboration, listen, team-work, I could go on! What if we could tap into a set of universal values that everyone gets, but are so uniquely personal that they allow for talent to be unleashed. Intrigued? I was, this is what I have discovered.

Here is what I have learnt from listening to people.

  • People want to feel like they are using their talent: Whether you work at a senior level, middle management or front-line staff, people like to do a great job. People want to know that their talents are fully used. This means that you and I need to increase our awareness, understanding what our teams are good at. Any hidden talents that go missed? Are there colleagues who, with a bit of time allocation can help on a project because they have a talent of seeing the ’detail’. Their job role might be a receptionist, yet they are damn good at seeing what you can’t!
  • People want to work in a pleasant atmosphere: If the organisation form a culture that is toxic (manipulation, domination, intimidation and isolation) then people withdraw, button down the hatches and remove their talent. Think about it personally, if you feel in danger, what do you do? You are more cautious, reluctant to be vulnerable and even withdraw. It is human nature that when we are in an environment where there is safety (by this I mean an atmosphere of high trust, kindness, empathy, understanding, challenge, creativity and focus) then we give more.
  • People like to see success and be part of a winning environment: On average people do not like to be average! Mediocracy is the blocker to releasing talent! Having values that demonstrates meritocracy; what you put in collectively will lead to successful outcomes is a stimulus for creating a successful team culture. Having a cadence of celebrating small success, maybe on a visual scoreboard, showing the incremental victories of the weekly small behaviours that everyone is accountable to is a driver in creating team engagement.

Research shows that people are content when they feel like they have an identify, have belonging and are helping someone else. What if the universal organisation values achieve this aim? Creating a workforce that uses people’s talent (despite their role), has an atmosphere of belonging and where a collective project or team sees success in helping others?

This is what we tried to do at Innersummit. We got rid of our values (after all they are a given right?) and then began to talk about what would make us live the above? Here is what we came up with, and I believe are universal values that underpin all companies.

BE YOU – we want everyone to be their true authentic selves and to be valued for that. Your contribution is unique, you bring something to the table that I may not.

BE KIND – treat others as you want to be treated, be open and honest and transparent.

BE INVOLVED – we have a business delivery model and regardless of skills or role, everyone is encouraged to be involved in all parts of our organisation.  Bring your ideas, and suggestions, try something or talk to us about something you’ve seen that might be worthwhile.

Let me hand over to Rachel Jobes (her role is Process Development Manager – yes that is a title for a job description, she is the pioneer of the 3Bs). Let’s see what she thinks.

How have these values made a difference to me in my role?

I left school in 1996 I have worked in offices ever since, private and public sector, government, church and charity.  I left a long-term career five years ago to “do something that mattered” or “to feel like I was doing something important”.  I have genuinely come to believe, that staff engagement and organisational cultures play a pivotal part in those feelings and that in any organisation we can feel that, in any role we can feel valued and that our contribution matters.  If we as leaders manage to do that the impact on our staff personally and corporately will then impact our wider teams and thus our organisations.

Since joining Innersummit I have been involved in so many things that would not typically be my role, or on paper I am not qualified to do.  I am engaged in the organisation and what we do but also in our environment where I can work flexibly and simply need to dress appropriate to that day’s tasks.  Where I am asked for my input but also where I’m free to ask others for their input and get help.

The behaviours we have genuinely generate and cultivate an environment and culture that I feel will produce not only a content workforce but a happy, engaged and productive workforce.

How is it that we make sure it’s a focus? How, when we grow will we make sure that these 3B’s that thread up to our 3I’s (Inspire, Innovate and Influence)?

As they are our team values as well as our culture, we make sure we actively discuss these.  This has gone beyond having them as a tick list on a one to one discussion and we have totally recreated our one to one discussion. This ensures we are always measuring and checking how people feel, if they are experiencing a 3B culture but also helping create one.  If they are feeling involved.  Growth will happen and we will not only need to carry the culture we will need to set it.  At every level within the organisation we will need to model the 3B culture, our 3B conversations (if you aren’t aware of those you can read more here) will need to be open and honest.  We will be tracking staff engagement levels alongside our 3B’s and I know we are up to the challenge and not only that but our 3B culture and conversations will equip and empower any new team members to immerse themselves into Innersummit, developing them, us and our organisation.

As a conclusion, is it time to rid companies/organisations of ‘given’ values and align to universal values of Be You, Be Kind and Be Involved? If so, consider what the benefits are in creating a 3B culture. If you would like further information please contact us at start@innersummit.co.uk .