Rant: Companies should be treating their employees as adults. I think that people, generally, are smart and intelligent. Which is why I tend to cringe at the horribly cliched, tried and true values and mission statements that are floating around at the moment. Read any corporate web page/annual report/csr report. Boilerplate. We care about customer service. We strive for a greener world. We strive for equality in the workplace. We aim to be the best we can be.
Yuk. Does anybody actually work to these? Can someone tell me the last time they we’re staring down the funnel, known as their computer, cranking out some piece of work because they ‘cared abut customer service.’ I believe people are adults. That they want to work for good companies, and that the culture of those companies dictates the values and mission statements.
Lets be clear here. I’m a fan of the concept of values and internal mission statements. I think they are crucial in creating an innovative, creative culture. But lets stop with the idea that value statements must test well with the companies customers. The values of a company/division/department should jive with the people (get ready for a shock here) THAT ARE THERE! A truly good values statement should be simple (but not simplistic), and carry with it a clear message about how ‘stuff happens.’ It should signal loud and clear “this is who we are, and this is what we do, and this is how.” It should treat the people that work there, as adults.
As luck would have it, I’ve found a few examples.
Apple: Yes, everyones favourite brand also creates a great atmosphere and vibe for it’s employees. Check out this link here to see why (yes, another fastcompany article – sorry!) or this book, which has just been released for the down-low. I’ve added it to my wishlist.
The Body Shop: Has represented the non-fluffed, real values, real outcomes side of the green movement for years and years. Check out their very cool Values blog here to read more. These guys care – which is amazingly refreshing.
Ergo Consulting: Yeah, a bit small for these comparisons – and yes, I worked there for a year + a little. But their ‘Participation Behaviours’ ruled the roost. No ridiculous KPI’s. Just good, passionate ways they wanted to go about their business. They are something else – check out the website here and their nascent blog, here.
IDEO: The culture dictates the values. If you don’t conform to the culture, you’ll leave. Simple. Respect. Read this HBR article, Building an Innovation factory, here.
St Lukes: Everyone is a shareholder. Everyone owns the business, and so everyone cares. These guys are amazing, and don’t need a boiler-plate values and mission statement. They live and breathe their values everyday, unprompted. If you haven’t already, you MUST read Simple Minds, the book documenting their founding. Check the website here.
Please, next time you’re having the “values” discussion, demand something real that you will actually want to work for. DON’T let customers impressions get in the way here. Just do it!