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.