Great management is no accident. It’s the result of deliberate effort to focus on what’s important vs urgent.
Managing values- what the business, firm or agency professes to stand for – is one of those important things.
So many companies have a values statement on the wall. But ask any employee or even top managers what their values are and, yes, some can rattle them off. But then go further and ask this question: How would I know it if I see it? Then you probably will get a blank stare of some mumble jumble answer.
This is When You Need CPR:
Organizations often tout their values – accountability, innovation, integrity, quality, respect, teamwork – but when is the last time you asked if these values have been defined in behavioral terms? Does the company know what “”respect “for example looks like, feels like or smells like?
In a leadership development program for a growing hospitality company, each module of the training included an exercise called “Values in Action”. Here’s an example. Your staff and customers would see and know “integrity” because you would:
- Admit mistakes – don’t blame others, take responsibility to solve the problem.
- Do what you say you were going to do – and if you can’t, say so.
- Lead by example in both personal and business conduct.
- Commit yourself to both the project and the team.
The practice part is a bit more challenging. This involves actually doing what you say you value. A critical part of strong leadership is the degree to which what you profess and what you practice are in alignment. So here’s a exercise for you to do each week.
- Pick one value you want to practice. Don’t be an over-achiever and try to accomplish more. Start small and then build.
- Ask how can I demonstrate this value? For example, if it’s “respect”, then who are the folks I want to show respect to and how will I do it? It could be as simple as not interrupting Mary when she gets long winded.
- Assess the end of the week what specific things you did to exemplify this particular value? What might have been opportunities you missed? For example, when Joe came in to my office and said…. I could have said this…..
- Pick another value and go through the same process the following week. What you’ll find is awareness plus focus plus motivation leads to change.
The reinforcement part requires even more effort. Reinforcement involves specific and deliberate application of affirmation, encouragement and reward for positive behavior. This can be done through positive feedback when you see an employee treating a customer with respect; or it could be part of the annual performance appraisal process; or it could be done by storytelling – a powerful way to communicate what we value and how we behave around here.
Management Success Tip:
Values are important. They describe how you relate to your staff, customers, investors and suppliers. Numbers tell you how much there is of something, not if it is right. Values tell you whether something is right for you and your company. And when values have been defined in behavioral terms then you, as a manger, can lead more effectively.
Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?