Imagine one of your teams is confronted by a critical situation that no one in your organization has ever faced—where the stakes are high and failure would cause pain for everyone. Now imagine this team has no access to senior leadership and has to navigate the situation completely unsupervised.
If this scenario makes you uneasy, it might be a sign your organization’s values aren’t as embedded as they could be.
Here are two ways to react to this situation
1) There is something wrong with my team or my company that would prevent successfully dealing with this situation.
This path leads to tighter policies, more detailed procedures and stricter management. All of these are useful if what you do is something that you repeat over and over again. However, the more rigid the policy or tight the management, the more useless it becomes at even the slightest change in situation. Even worse, this approach will destroy any hope of empowering and engaging your team. In its place will be a culture where everyone waits to be told what to do at every turn, and nothing more.
2) There is something missing, that if present, would allow them to successfully navigate without a map.
In my 20 years of working with organizations, I have found that the ones most successful at navigating uncharted waters are those with a clear and active set of values. Every person in the organization lives them every day. They are not simply words on a plaque or a website. They are behind every action the organization takes, top to bottom.
Power comes from living your values
Organizations who live their values don’t need strict policy, or comprehensive guides to perform and behave in a certain way. They can use their values to invent, in real time, what to do, how to do it, and how to treat each other and those around them. They are empowered and engaged because they know, no matter what they do, as long as they embody the values of the organization, it will be the right thing.
How to get started
If your organization doesn’t have a clear picture of its values, or you have words for them, but they aren’t a lived part of your culture, you are not alone. We’ve spent years helping our clients with values, and to give you a head start, we took what we’ve learned and created a workbook to help you begin the journey, which can be downloaded here.
Brent works with leaders to design futures worth fighting for. A partner at Fathom, he champions an approach to strategic planning, employee engagement, leadership succession and market differentiation that prioritizes people and relationships. As a result, his clients don’t simply plan their futures, they bring them to life through the energy of organization-wide involvement in, and commitment to, generating valuable businesses that matter.
Want more from Fathom?
Sign up to receive updates about our articles.