March 20, 2012 at 3:50pm
Bring at work your best values that characterize your relations with your children, your parents or with your best friends to build an open and creative climate, make your customers happy and create a sustainable business.
In the work place people are encouraged to behave with different style compared to personal life, everybody is asked to be "professional", and this is good, or....
Well, this would be good if "professional" meant competent, committed, interested, responsible, efficient, effective, disciplined, creative, polite and much more other positive attitude everybody is looking for when hiring. Unfortunately the term "professional" is often used to state that you need to leave your personal side at home, or at least consider it not relevant. The important thing is that you reach your target and you are aligned with corporate (investors) directions, all the rest of yourself can be left out of office.
You are putting on your professional dresses as you change yourself when moving from home to the professional environment: you are required to change your attitudes and your values as well. As it is not easy to change values like changing clothing, contamination among the two worlds happens. However in the workplace, business value (that is financial result) dominates on human values, that are actually more complex, more variegate and colorful (like human being is) than bottom line gray number that is profit (or loss).
However, at least starting from more than 10 years ago, popular understanding is that there must be something wrong in having this unique gray value (called profit) as unique value, or better to say the bare make money with money paradigm has something wrong. First Internet bubble, than banks failure and finally problems affecting entire states economies showed the model is not working in the long term; it is not sustainable.
In the following we propose radical change through values, the values that should characterize our life in the work place: we believe they are the root, the soul of long term change.
We believe that changing values, behavior and style in the workplace is a powerful and effective solution. For this we created a framework called FamilyValues@work.com that means exactly what it looks like: bring Family Values in the work place to create and sustain your business.
Bringing at work your best values that make you happy in your family is a truly powerful way to change the business.
In fact human beings are doing amazing things and obtain unsurpassed results inside a family; however we tend to underestimate those results. It is true that families are experiencing severe problems in our society, more than in the past, but this confirms how family values are important: in fact families are destroyed exactly when core values are abandoned.
In this section you can find relevant examples of values, behavior and working styles resulting from the adoption of the FamilyValues@work.com framework, however many others can be identified applying the same model: in a nutshell when you are making decision, think as your company and customers were your Family.
We have applied the model internally to the company and to external customer relations. Same model can be applied to additional parties the company is dealing with, like partners or suppliers.
Here we are referring to family with children as it helps us to better to express the FamilyValues@work.com framework.
Let's start with Motivation in the Family: aren't (future) parents crazy when they think to setup a family and desire children? Don't they see the enormous amount of problems moving from child or free individuals status to parents? Isn't it the far more challenging objectives than anybody can think of? But those two guys are anyway attracted by it, and can't resist. The strength of their desire is far more powerful than all difficulties. This translated to the professional environment means: if your company has motivated people, they can pass any problem or difficulties they might find on the way.
We can say that the source of motivation in the family is the shared desire to do important things together.
Let's apply Motivation (family style) to the Company. Company top Management / Board need to setup clear "desire", as tangible as possible, not buzz words; the desire must be 100% shared with all employees. Shared means actually married by employees. Actually it must be clarified by management that if or when the desire is fundamentally not shared by somebody, it is better for him/her to find another company to share desire with.
Let's apply Motivation to the Customer relation (especially B2B). All point of contacts with customer must know what is the desire of the customer, what is important for him/her, understand and share it. Empathy skills are very crucial here as Customer desire becomes my desire: it is important to hire/have people with Empathy talent facing customers. Actually loving customers is the right feeling here [DM].
What's next? Authenticity and Trust. How can you live the entire life with your spouse being fundamentally deceptive? How can you think of growing up children with your spouse if trust is low? You must be so sure Authenticity and Trust are in your family that you can bet your and your children lives on it. And when Trust is broken (fundamentally) it starts the end of the relation. Moreover children are very smart to detect fake behavior, and authenticity is a must if you want them to follow your values.
Authenticity and Trust in the family enable true relations and let the family focus together on their dreams, without spending energy to defend oneself from the other.
Authenticity is a must for top management when they want to be real leader, especially when the company wants to spread values inside the company. Nothing worst than C-levels speaking about values and actiing against them, they not only will fail spreading values, but they implicitly state that values are not important.
Trust must be present among all employees. Management especially must trust colleagues, act accordingly and setup a way of working that is trust based. When employees can focus on real business value, rather than spending energies on internal battles, efficiency increases dramatically.
Regarding relation with customers, it is difficult to imagine a long relation with customers if deceptive relations are setup; that means that, especially in the social networked society, it is better to be truthful (even if it can cost loosing one customer) rather than being spotted as unreliable partner (that it costs much more, not only loosing the specific customer) [M3].
Children bring Creativity and Innovation in the family, they are by nature open minded and they really change parents' life. They actually can be truly creative if they are allowed to play, to live in a "safe" environment that allows them to express themselves without fear. We are sometimes impressed by the intuitive answers even on complex issues, if they are allowed to say what they think. In a good family they are actually not only allowed but encouraged to express their ideas.
So we can say that in a family Creativity and Innovation are present if children are truly encouraged to express themselves.
Same concept is true for Companies. People, at any stage of professional career, level and function, can bring true innovation with creative ideas especially in areas they are new at. Employees must be encouraged to express their ideas and they must have a proper safe environment and time to "play" with ideas with others, in an open and spontaneous way, as children playing together. It is well known that majority of innovation (that is new ideas applicable to business) comes from internal employees rather than from expensive external consultant. [MI].
Extension to creativity and innovation with customers is already well known as Open Service Innovation [OS]. We can say company should create the right and safe environment where employees and customer can play together on the Product/Service to innovate them.
Let's again think about children to introduce the next topics Empowerment and Competence. Children are great learners, but they need to be instructed, educated, to gain self-confidence and self-awareness. Also parents are actually learning a lot from their children, from real life experience and from grandparents. One of the greatest competence especially parents gain is the ability to serve others, and love serving others.
Empowerment and Competence in the family can be seen as the ability to continuously learn, increase self-confidence and self-awareness to develop innate talents and become able to happily serve others.
Inside a Company Empowerment means that everybody can really develop himself, his main innate talents, that need exercise and practice to become real strengths and bring results. When somebody seems not to express any particular talent, that's because he/her is not in the condition to practice them. Top management should first consider it before labeling one employee as low performer. Instead it would be wiser to identify talents and create a right environment for talents exercise [GL]. Empowerment must always promote the ability to serve others, company must stimulate the concept of service among colleagues and they should serve happily; actually the higher the responsibility the higher the ability of serving others should be. Need for Competence is in theory well known in companies, but competence development budget is typically cut in low margin periods, while this could be the real fuel for innovation. Moreover this tend to be reserved to new employees, while it is relevant for senior staff as the world is changing very quickly, not only technical, but also how we live, we communicate and so on.
When working with Customers it is crucial that company empowers employees with the urgency of serving and teach them to do it happily, customer needs to be served, this is actually the real job of the company. Competence is also crucial for customer facing people, as they are the image of the company competence, and being perceived as a company with low level of competence means that the company is seen as not able to deliver the value.
Family is the place where Diversity, Collaboration and Share are probably reaching the highest level possible among social institutions. We have sex diversity, age diversity and characters diversity living together day by day and sharing the most intimate emotions and experiences. Collaboration is also crucial for parents and an important skill to be learnt by children, that learn to collaborate when playing together.
Diversity, Collaboration and Share is thus the ability to stay and live daily together in an open way and take advantage of the different and unique talents and skills each member has.
In the company, especially multinational companies, different cultures, different skills from different department are available as well as different ages. Managers must take advantage of this and mix people with several diversities in projects to work together. It is having common challenges and objectives, working daily together that people can start appreciating different skills, why of thinking, of course employees must be encouraged to Collaborate and Share as company value to be rewarded.
Regarding relation with Customer, it is obvious that Diversity between vendor and customer must be managed, again from family we learn that diverse people must work together daily, to turn diversity into potentiality, so Collaborate daily with your customers. Share is also relevant, and it goes together with trust, as bad surprises are not well accepted by customers, a right level of share must be implemented. Right level means that not everything can be shared with customers (as parents are not sharing everything with children), that means share bad news but always save the relation.
Family is the environment where people can reach the highest Results possible for an "organization", that is generating a new human being and help him/her to grow as a responsible Adult. Results are inherently measured inside the family, in fact good parents are full of Satisfaction when children are growing and getting adults, and there are different ways to measure it: for example they leave their selfish habit and start to serve others, when they start to be independent and so on.
We can say that Results and Satisfaction are the needed forces that make possible to continue and face new challenges. Human beings need to have a rewarding in what they do.
Inside a company people must be enabled to reach Results that are source of Satisfaction, that means set the right target depending on the seniority level, department, skills, attitude, aspiration, economic cycle; thus Results target must be highly personalized and depends on the specific economic conditions, as well as the way Results recognition is managed to fully bring to Satisfaction. Results and Satisfaction are source of implicit rewarding, create sense of affiliation to the company improving thus efficiency and reducing turnover.
When dealing with Customers, Results are the source of Revenues, and especially Customer Satisfaction is the source of confidence and loyalty, very important in the Networked Society. To reach Customer Satisfaction, however, requires deep knowledge and intimacy with the Customer, in fact being Satisfaction highly personalized, Company must know very well what Customer expects, is looking for, and understand their deep need better than Customer himself.
In Conclusion: the values and behavior listed above are actually some applied examples of FamilyValues@work.com framework. Inside the Company and with Customers, each Employee, Manager, Executive, shall act, think, believe, behave as in a good family. In other words each employee in the Company needs to base daily decision making on Family Values and make it work in the professional environment. When you are in every decision process, imagine you were in a Family and take inspirations from Family Values.
Adopting FamilyValues@work.com, that means bring family values and behavior in the work place (at all levels), will help the company to reach Long Term profitability and business Health.
Principled Company: basing the full company decisions on family values and rewarding system on values attainment, will create a Company that is based on strong ethical behavior, attention to internal people and to the relation with the eco-system the company is working in.
Patient Company: Family Values are focused on long term goals, decision making is naturally driven by constant attention to the future but without disrupting the present. The concept of temporary sacrifice in family life is absolutely normal in order to reach a longer term goal.
Social Company: family lives in a society and it is very sensitive to society problems as for example they impact on children future. Again here adoption of Family Values and the ability to share ideas inside the company will help to come up with innovative services to offer to the society.
Big changes (and adoption of FamilyValues@work.com framework is a huge one) in a Company requires first of all sponsorship from highest management levels. First people to believe in Family Values are the company owner, board, investors, CEO. The company must setup a great attention to the way people are working before measuring what they are reaching.
All organizations level must then be happy to adopt Family Values.
Proper external communication must be setup to make clear that the company is adopting such values, with the benefit of company image (that must be authentic one) and with great advantage in the hiring process: in fact it would be easier to attract people sensitive to the concept of FamilyValues@work.com.