I’ve been noticing some very nostalgic longing in the “Most Wanted” lists of several managers. When it comes to discussions about what could be, they talk about wanting an increased sense of responsibility, better reliability and dependability, honesty and integrity, humility and a hunger to do whatever it takes to learn, grow, and improve. What they are longing for, are those good, “old fashioned” values in the innate character of their staff.
They want these things with good reason. If I had to choose just one from that signs-on-the-wall framed triad of mission, vision, and values for my manager’s toolbox at work, regardless of the kind of company or industry I was in, I would choose values.
Why? Values determine behavior.
When you a) choose the values which will be the hallmark of the character found within your company, and b) you align all your operational systems and processes with those values, c) creating a workplace where people thrive when they practice them, you then get the performance which separates winners from everyone else.
When you choose the right values, you get everything else you need to be successful —including those other two; vision and mission.
Ah, but there’s the rub; what are the “right” values?
“To manage with Aloha is to draw out the best performance of your own management practice from the values that are inherent in your nature and a match for the demands of your business. To be a great manager, is to realize your success depends on the people you manage, and they are driven by their values just as much as you are. You have to respect their culture, and learn to speak the language of their values. In all likelihood, their values will match up with your own much more than you think.”
—Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business
There is no magic formula in choosing value statements in companies; the right values for one company are not necessarily those which will work best for another. The reason is simple: The people are different.
The values of a company begin to take shape when that first dream happens in the consciousness of that company’s founders, because they had a vision of how something they are extremely passionate about can come to be within a business built to make their vision happen. After that, it’s about enlistment; the founders look for the right partnerships in the assistance they’ll need to work out the nuts and bolts of their mission. If they are wise, they interview for values which will match or complement their own, in staff, in suppliers and industry partners, and even in customers.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of what you need to do at work. When you have to choose the next best thing to work on, choose values.
I write here at Lifehack.org every Thursday; we’ll talk about this more in the weeks ahead.
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. Her most recent online collaboration effort is JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network. For more of Rosa’s ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com