Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Values, lived not laminated!

I was talking yesterday about how people at work, after the honeymoon period, change. And that sadly, they tend to change for the worse.

When leaders pick up on the fact that the organisation or their department isn't functioning as it should be, they often decide to implement a culture change programme or develop their team, don't they?

And during such offsites, leaders and their teams agree, commit to and publish a vision and list of values that they expect themselves to display and expect the same of everyone else. Examples of these values include a sense of urgency, honesty, integrity, a "can-do" attitude, respect, a customer-first mentality, trust, openness, passion, professionalism and a willingness to seek and implement change.

Such leaders agree to not only live by these values but also to reward and encourage them both within their own department and between departments.

Values, lived not laminated!

The problem is that this rarely, if ever, happens and people continue to play politics. Decisions continue to be made by team members lobbying, bullying or avoiding each other in order to achieve their own objectives. And negative behaviours such as customer indifference or disparagement, inertia, distrust, blaming, passive-aggressive resistance, interdepartmental non-cooperation, time-wasting and subversive entrenchment of the status quo, result in a culture of non-cooperation, characterised more by negative behaviours than positive ones.

When a new employee joins the company they soon learn the difference between the laminated positive values, attitudes and behaviours and those in practice. And if they want to be accepted by their colleagues, they begin to conform to those in practice.

There's generally a mix of people who want to adopt the desired laminated organisational values and those who, through gam-playing and company politics, define and reinforce those in practice.

In my experience of organisations, you can divide people into the following three categories:

1. One-third who already possess the desired values, attitudes and behaviours and therefore fit the culture

2. One-third who are willing and able to change to fit the culture

3. One-third who do not fit and do not want to change and live the organisational values

It's a shame that after much time, expense and effort this breakdown typically remain the same both before and after a change programme or team building event.

Eventually, the negativity of the one-third who don't live the values, weakens the resolve of the motivated two-thirds until they eventually leave physically or worse, psychologically.

As I say in my first book:

"It's not the people who have left the organisation that we should worry about, it's the people who have "left" but are still there!"

Many really good people become half a person at work. They know it. And they hate it. But they feel powerless to do anything about it.

More tomorrow...



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