Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Are we a cult now?



Organisational values.  Rarely have I come across a topic in my career that has provoked so much scepticism.  From those who are totally anti-corporate values to those who just think its is all hot air and no action, rarely have I come across anyone who thrills to the idea of discussing values, except branding agencies of course!

One manager I had in the past summed it up well when they talked about people having values, not companies.  People, they argued, are all individuals and have differing values.  Companies cannot force their values onto people, so there is always going to be some tension between people living their personal values and abiding by corporate values.  Talk of corporate values is therefore pointless.

On a more positive note, I have seen examples of some organisations taking different approaches.  One charity I know restructured a while ago.  Rather than the traditional approach of deciding which skills and competencies they wanted and redeploying and recruiting staff accordingly, they decided to focus on values.  So the recruitment process was designed from the outset to explore individual employees’ congruence with the charity’s values.  Those with the strongest fit stayed.  Those with the weakest fit were first in line for redundancy.  They firmly believe this has given them a more committed staff base to build on for the future.

Despite these opposing views, one of the nice things about working for yourself is that your corporate values are your personal values.  There should be no clashes between the way the firm goes about its business and the way the owner behaves.  Hopefully!

So, I want to use this latest blog to explain the values of Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd, or as we put it on our website, what we (and therefore I) believe in as to the way we go about our business of engaging and inspiring people to bring about change.

These are the six areas we have focused on:

Honesty

This is a non-negotiable for me.  It is an absolutely fundamental value.  That’s why it is first in the list.

  • I will always be honest in my dealing with clients and potential clients. 
  • I will not sell you a service if I don’t think you need it. 
  • I will not commit to doing a piece of work if I don’t think I can do (either because of availability or fit with my skills). 
  • I will be honest and upfront about how I can help and what it will cost you.

I will also be honest in what I say and write about the volunteering movement. 

In my view there aren’t enough people speaking up and speaking out about volunteering issues.  I want to help fill that void with honest views, opinions and advice.  That’s what I hope this blog will increasingly be used for.

This is a critical time for the volunteering movement in the UK and I hope in some small way that I can honestly and helpfully speak and write about the issues we face.

Passion

At Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd we are passionate about the potential of people, about their potential to effect change and make the world a better place.

In fact passion is a word that I keep hearing when people talk about how I go about my work.  And I am happy about that because, for me, being in the volunteering movement isn’t just a job, it is a vocation. 

I am passionate about volunteering, about what I do, about how I do it and about the difference it makes.

I want to bring that passion, that enthusiasm to my work with clients.  I want others to share that passion and enthusiasm.  I want volunteers to feel even more passionate and enthusiastic about their work and the difference it makes.  I want paid staff to feel even more passionate about what they do and the challenges & opportunities they face.

It is this passion about the potential of people that is at the core of our vision to engage and inspire people to bring about change.

Fun

According to one survey I read, the average person spends 99,117hrs at work during their life.  That’s 11 years.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want those 11 years to be devoid of any enjoyment.

That’s why I want Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd to bring a sense of fun to our work.  Yes, what we do is serious and we do it seriously.  But lets also get serious about having fun. 

In early years education children learn through play, through having fun.  Who says this has to stop when you’re a child?  In my experience people learn more if they are having fun learning.  I know I do.

So I want to enjoy my work and have fun doing it.  And I want that to be your experience of working with me too.

Integrity 

There is a great book on leadership called ‘The Leadership Challenge’, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.  In it they argue that a critical ingredient to effective leadership is integrity – living out your values. 

That’s why I wanted to blog about them here, so I can be open about them and let people judge for themselves if I live them in my work.

Kouzes and Posner sum integrity up in a chapter on leaders modelling the way as DWYSYWD. 

Do What You Say You Will Do. 

That’s my goal – please tell me if I get it right (or wrong!).

Value

In the past I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in shaping the content for conferences.  One of the things that delegates had always fed back about previous events was the price – it was, in their view too, high.  From the view of the organisation I was working with, the price was the minimum they could offer as it allowed them to break even, just.

So we took a different approach.  We increased the price just enough to cover inflationary rises to our costs but refocused the content so that is gave really good value to the delegates.  After the next event we got very few comments about the price, but lots about how valuable the conference had been.

Value refers to the perception of benefits received for what someone must give up, in this case the price.  Where the organisation in question had gone wrong in the past was in focusing solely on the price (keeping it as low as possible without making a loss because they thought this is what got people to book places) rather than on the value of what people were paying for.
That is an important point I am taking into the new business.   I have to charge a fee for what I do.  This is my livelihood now.  This is how I pay my mortgage and feed my kids.  That’s why there is a price for my services.

But if you hire me I hope you don’t feel like you get an service that simply costs money (price).  Instead, I hope you feel like you get a service of real value, a service that is built on many years of experience and that is dedicated to bringing you benefits that will help you achieve your goals.

Effectiveness

Someone wisely said that efficiency is doing this well but effectiveness is doing the right things well. 

There isn’t much to add really, it speaks for itself and that’s how I want to help my clients – focus on doing the right things well.


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