Company Values: Not the Same as It Ever Was

I have, over the course of time, participated in and/or facilitated numerous activities designed to create, define and encapsulate company “Mission, Vision & Values.” 

Quite often, because some training facilitator settled on a way to approach this exercise in 1987, this process has involved a cross-section of employees and other stakeholders settling themselves into a room armed with flip charts, markers, and cartons of post-it notes. There may have been focus groups, assessments, surveys and iterative discussions prior to this day but THIS one-day event (with catered lunch!) has been the culmination of hours upon hours of work. I’ve seen some raw emotions too; at one organization a senior leader, not accustomed to a collaborative process, stormed out of the room flinging papers and markers in her wake.

Good times.

Certainly there are some people who think this is a colossal waste of time; fluff dreamed up by management consultants and HR folks. After all, thinks Mr./Ms. MoneyBags CEO, “our missionis to make money, our visionis to make MORE money, and our valuesare to make that money in whatever way we need to make it.”

I, however, have always believed that clarity around M/V/Vs not only aligns people across an organization but provides a guiding point – a lodestar if you will, for everyone to follow. 

We recently went through this exercise at my company and, let me say, it was GREAT! No conference rooms with post-it notes for us though; we’re 100% virtual so we worked through the process via Zoom calls and whiteboarding things out on Google Docs. There may or may not have been adult beverages involved.  

What I have determined, over the years, is that the mission and vision part is relatively easy; why we’re here and we’re going. Most every company can easily articulate this with just a modicum of prodding.

It’s the values part that leaves people flummoxed, confused and exasperated. It can be an arduous task for leaders to allow employees to not partake of some serious self-reflection but also to have the discussions around the “not so good things” about a company’s deeply-held beliefs. (Inverting the question and asking “what is our company NOT” or “what do similar organizations do that we would NEVER do?” can lead to some interesting discussions).

So because it’s hard, and then because it’s safe, these M/V/V teams end up just tossing word-salad up on the wall and calling it a day. This, my friends is why 99.9% of organizations have the same values: teamwork! communication! service! integrity! (blech). Watered down pabulum. 

But in our recent foray into encapsulating and defining our company values we didn’t settle for the mundane.  I’m telling you, not only was the process great but I so love what we came up with that I feel the need to share. Let me present, the Strio Consultingvalues:

  • No Doors and Open Windows Lots of companies talk about an “open door” culture but we embrace a culture with no doors and wide-open windows. We’re transparent and accessible to our clients and to each other. Got a question? Ask it. Need access to someone? You got it. Think something sucks? Bring it up.
  • Doing Things Right Means Doing the Right Thing We’re honorable and trustworthy in all our interactions; integrity is non-negotiable. We play it straight from the get-go and, if we screw up, we own it. The needs and interests of our clients are top of mind. Always. 
  • Embrace That Which is UnusualWe’re OK with being weird. Really. We consider it a badge of honor to be of strange or extraordinary character. Got humor? We like that too.
  • Unburdened by Tradition We’re not bound by the traditional walls of an office nor are we stuck in the typical nine-to-five grind. With a reverential nod to workplace customs that have served us well, we take great delight in consigning the soul-sucking, outdated ways of doing things to the trash heap of business practices as we focus on the future of work. We pride ourselves in the way we work; we’re creative, adaptable and fast-moving – and we help our clients work this way too.
  • Bold and Brainy We surround ourselves with people who exhibit insatiable curiosity; people who read, learn, explore and debate. We like people who ask “why?” and we love nothing more than answering that question.
  • Ubiquitous Uniqueness Our community – our company – is made up of human beings and we celebrate the individual. Be yourself. Be unique. Be special. Live your best life.

What we believe, how we operate and what’s important. These are ours and no one else’s; and most definitely NOT the same as it ever was. 

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Heading to WorkHuman? Join me for the panel Beyond Buzzwords: Real Talk on What it Takes to Create an Amazing Culture”with Michelle Prince, SVP, Global HR, Global Head Learning & Development, Randstad; John Baldino, President, Humareso; and Niamh Graham, VP of Global HR, WorkHuman.

Haven’t registered yet? Use code WH19INFRSC for a discount! 

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“Wait til @jkjhr sees us, he loves us!” – #ILSHRM18

Many of us like to point to our vast social networks and talk about the friendships we have either made or deepened that are directly attributable to hanging out on social media. I, for one, can point to the early days on #HRtwitter as instrumental in bringing lots of people into my life; folks on whom I continue to rely for advice, counsel, fun and frivolity. People I admire and adore.

John Jorgensen is one of those people.

Back in 2008/2009, John and I “met” online via twitter; hanging out on #HRHappyHour every Thursday night, chatting offline about SHRM (I was Past President of my chapter in Louisiana, he was State Director in Illinois).  I remember the first time we met IRL; HRevolution in 2010 in Chicago. My plane landed, I checked into my hotel, and I sent him a message asking where he was. After getting the answer I walked down the street, popped into an Irish Pub of some sort, and hung out with my friend for the first time!

Fast forward a few months and John (along with William Tincup, Jessica Miller-Merrell and Geoff Webb) sat with me in a bar at HRFlorida and helped me come up with a name and buy the domain for my original blog. Yup.

Why is John so special and why are we honoring him today on “John Jorgensen Day?” (also the first day of #ILSHRM18):

  • He is a wealth of knowledge on human resources and if new practitioners dive into his brain for just an hour or two they will walk away with the best foundation for their blossoming HR career
  • Behind that curmudgeonly exterior is a heart of gold; he will do anything to help another person whether it be his family, friends, alumni of his schools (he just landed a board role for his HS alumni committee), or his pals on Team Tuppy Trivia
  • He has worked diligently at the forefront of changing the dynamics of SHRM (local, state and national levels) while also promoting and championing the history of our professional organization
  • He will advise you of the correct ways to prepare and consume chili (no beans!), Chicago style hot dogs and Portillo’s Italian Beef
  • He loves old school blues music, The Godfather and Animal House, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Gettysburg
  • He calls me at least once a month so we can catch up, joke around and solve-all-the-days-problems!

Cheers to you John Jorgensen – this is a day when we, your friends and fellow HR professionals – salute you!

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The Power of Many. The Power of ONE.

Every now and again I dig into the archives. Here’s a post from 2012. Still true. 

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Last week, in the manner that these things occur, there was a picture making the rounds on Facebook that poked fun (in an amusing way with just a dash of profanity) of the old cliché “there’s no ‘I’ in team.”

Which reminded me how much I’ve always truly disliked that saying.

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It goes without saying that assembling a group of individuals with unique talents that compliment each other can unleash all sorts of things – idea generation, innovation, a little-bit-of-friction (in a good way).  The collective group could quite possibly get more done in a shorter period of time and accomplish things that an individual could not achieve on their own.

But you know what I’ve always found to be the undeniable truth?

That team is made up of a bunch of ‘I’s – as in INDIVIDUALS.

And each of those individuals must make a purposeful and conscious decision to bring themselves into the group. Each person must be committed, engaged and invested in moving the work of the team forward.

I daresay that if any one person belongs to a team and believes that the power of the group trumps their own INDIVIDUAL power, then that team is doomed. The team may not fail – but I may not hit its full collective potential if all the individual members check their ‘I’s at the door.

There’s a great deal of potential and ability in many.

There’s a LOT of capability and power … in one.

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