The continuing effort to keep values in balance tempts many organisations to measure and manage them in people’s performance and behaviours. Judging whether they’re holding the value or not.
But there is a different way to keep values on track, so they contribute to the brand. One that allows for their contact with the tension and complexity present in all environments.
In a couple of recent articles here and here, I talk about finding your values’ boundaries. Going beyond what they are, understanding what they aren’t and when they go too far—the deficient and excess points on the values curve.
Values Curve © Michel Hogan
Those edges are a secret weapon to more fully use your values and are also helpful tools for keeping them in balance.
The place to start is asking yourself, “do people have the information they need?” Organisations will nearly always say what the values are (a poster on the wall). However, ensuring people know what they mean and, most importantly, how they can use them every day rarely happens.
Once people are well-grounded, you can begin watching for and tackling any behaviours that slide into deficiency or excess. The trick is navigating what I call the value’s dark side with positivity and generosity.
Find out why every value has a dark side. Click here
Because judging people on how well they ‘do’ the values makes them punitive. And they lose their potential to inspire doing the right things in the right way. Fear may be imperative when running from a tiger for my life. But, it’s a terrible motivator if you want me to stay curious, have new ideas and contribute to my team’s success.
Weaponising behaviours by calling me out for not doing the value, for example, saying, “That’s not how we do team,” won’t magically turn me into a team player.
As shame and vulnerability researcher and author Brené Brown says, “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors.”
Or, put another way, you can’t shame or belittle them into holding the values.
And here’s where boundaries come to the rescue by giving you a way to talk about behaviours that are out of balance, minus the fear or shame.
Let’s use a value called’ play your part’. My client who holds this value has ample detail about what it is and has also done the boundaries work for when it’s deficient and moves to excess.
When deficient in ‘play your part’, people are ‘dismissive’. And excess lands in ‘burdensome’ territory. For example, Jane offers help, pushing herself into others’ work when they seem overwhelmed. But rather than assisting, her behaviour adds stress. Because now others have to manage her interference and what they were doing.
Jane’s intent is in the right place. She’s not deliberately out of balance with ‘play your part’, and pulling out the ‘you’re not’ bat won’t help. Instead, they have a conversation around the burdensome boundary. How to avoid assuming what people need and ask before she invites herself into others’ work.
Every discussion at the boundary reinforces the value and deepens people’s understanding of how to put it to work. And when that happens over hundreds of actions a day, soon your organisation is balancing their values like a slack line maestro.
When I embrace values as how I do the right things around here. As part of how I work every day. I quickly see the result across all aspects of the organisations and accumulating in the brand.
See you next time.
P.S. Please share this with a friend who you think might enjoy it.