We've hit that part of the Strategic Planning process with a few of our clients: It's time for them to put what they've developed to the test. Specifically, a few clients are facing difficult situations with select key staff members. These tough situations are requiring top management to either put the Values Statements to work, or allow the Statements to simply be exquisite artwork and alienate their workforce. Let me explain.
One of the fundamental steps we take with clients when helping them develop a Strategic Plan is to develop a Values Statement, Guiding Principles, or Core Values. Whatever clients want to call it is fine, as long as the statement serves this critical purpose: This statement outlines specifically what behaviors and attitudes are expected of everyone who works for this organization, takes paychecks from this organization, or who serves this organization as a board member or as an agent of the organization. Anyone who represents this organization, from the most senior person to the newest front-line hire, is bound to abide by these values. However, if senior management is not willing to enforce the values on themselves and to live by them themselves – day in and day out – get rid of them. Take the statements out of the company handbooks, take them out of the new employee orientation materials, take them off all of your marketing materials and websites, and take the framed versions off the walls. If you're not going to enforce them – across the board – lose them.
It's relatively easy to develop these statements in our work sessions. The senior team can rather quickly articulate what behaviors and attitudes are important for their respective organization. These behaviors ensure the proper image, working environment, work ethic, and quality standards are met. These behaviors are obvious to most yet need to be shared and explained to all of the employees. However, when it comes time to "enforce The House Rules" as I call it, when a member of the senior team or some other key employee violates the rules, well, things get a little sticky. For some reason, the "rules" don't as easily apply to "key" people – they apply more easily to everyone else. Hmmm, a bit hypocritical isn't it? Can you see how this might cause a bit of a morale problem with "everyone else?"
Use them or lose them. What would you do if this weren't your golf partner? What would you do if this weren't your son? What would you do if your newest front-line hire did this? The rules are the rules. Your values are your values. What kind of character do you have if you allow key people, key individuals in your life and within your organization to do things that go against your values?
Your values – personal or organizational – should be a centering tool for you day in and day out. Use them or you will lose them.