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Lets start a conversation about your company values, you know that list of words or phrases that you have pinned to a wall somewhere, the ones that the exec team brought back from the golfing weekend or outward bound event or hot spa deep breathing team joining session (I don't think these actually exist but sometimes I can be surprised). That group of words or phrases that define what your company stands for, your beliefs, your very identify as an organisation, those things that form the basis that you hire, fire and reward your team on. You will all know them off by heart and can explain to everyone what they mean and point to where they exist in the company right now, can't you?
No? it's ok, you are not alone and here's why
Many companies are not clear what core values are, they confuse what core values are, they mix up values and behaviours and what is there Vs what they want to be there. They think about what will 'play well' with clients, what can they use to get the team focused or what they can point to and say hey we said we would stop that type of behaviour, look it's not part of our core values!
Integrity, honesty, respect for the individual / each other / team (delete as applicable!), Accountability the list goes on, but I bet you recognise them, I see / hear them a lot. So let me ask you a question, would you ever hire someone to your team that does not have integrity, who lies all the time, does not have respect for others, rebels against accountability? Would any company? No (or rather I hope not!) These are what we call Permission to Play Values, they are the barrier to poor choice people joining your company. You will test for these things to ensure that, even before you check on the rest, these are present. These aren't special to you, you don't have these things at a higher standard than others.
How many times have you either worked for or visited a company and saw a core value statement and thought.. well that's a joke, that's not us or not here? A great example I hear a lot is "we work with urgency" or a variation on that theme. No it's not a bad thing to be urgent (as long as its in the right way) but if you have an organisation who behaves in a non-urgent manner, where deadlines are those things that make a wooshing noise as they pass, then saying this is a Core Value is dumb, it's not , it doesn't exist in your culture. You can want it to exist, but it doesn't now so don't claim it as being a core value. Everyone from the new graduate to the guy who is just completing his 30th year filling the same seat, to your customers knows it's not true. How much integrity does a company have by claiming it has something it doesn't? It makes a joke of anything else you claim and kills morale.
What you are describing is a value you wish were present in the company, one that if it existed, would improve things and it's something you are determined to achieve. These are Aspirational Values. These are the things you aspire to have. Think for a moment of the power of saying to your teams, look the speed at which this company can respond to the market is critical to us, it can make or break us and we don't have it, we just don't have urgency, but we need it. That is why we are going to aspire to make this one of our core values, we're not there yet and we need your help to get there.
Core values are not for marketing, in fact if you may never write them down or put them up as a poster they would still exist in your company. How you describe them should be in a manner that makes sense to everyone in your company, that fits your culture. Wordsmithing it so it's obvious to a client or looks great on a T shirt isn't really that authentic now is it. Here are some great examples :
I could go on but you get the point.
Your core values are Your Values, they are not a marketing tool and in many cases people outside the company don't need to know them, but everyone inside must, and understand them and live by them. They are what makes your company you, they underline the very best of what your company is and can inspire your team. You hire, fire and reward based on them, you hold them sacred. The best bit, they are already there, just waiting for you to discover them, and we'll talk about that in the 2nd article.
If you want to understand more about developing Core Values or reviewing your current values and focus then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better
You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting
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