Whether you work on a temporary project, in an entrepreneur’s start-up or part of a large business or organisation, it is worth taking the time out to make sure that you have established the values by which you will do business. This means those things that you and your team say and do, consistently, even when it might be easier not to. It is your spirit.
In small organisations, these values can be readily identified, as the senior and junior people often occupy the same space and see much of each other in and out of work. In large organisations, the juniors may not even know who is at the top of the tree or may work across teams that have set their own values or behavioural standards. So how do we make sure that those that are new to your organisation buy in to and contribute to the values and spirit you are trying to create.
The bottom line is that you need to commit to them and the best way to do that is to write them down. The trick however, is to also make them meaningful and memorable. Have an acronym or a mnemonic that means that you won’t forget them even if you are under intense pressure. And don’t have more than five! We all lead our teams at all levels in any project, team or organisation. As soon as you have a colleague that you are working with or sharing knowledge, you have a duty to coach and mentor them in these values whatever your grade or rank.
And then comes the tough bit; having to live by them. This only works if they are right for you and your organisation. Seek every opportunity you can to reinforce the values by your actions. If you want to be caring, then show you care by doing something selfless for a client or a colleague. If you want to be enthusiastic, then always be smiling and up beat – the glass is always half full. It is only a meaningful value if you do it all the time, no matter what – that is why selecting them is tough.
It is interesting to note that the Royal Marines have “Courage, Determination, Unselfishness and Cheerfulness in the face of adversity”. They recognise that you need to be at your best when things are at their worst. And just as interesting, that they see the importance and benefit of being cheerful.
Over time you will see if this is working. Your people will remember them, readily quote them and be comfortable with them. Over time you and they will build anecdotes and stories that reinforce when to do the right thing and they become the way that they introduce new clients and colleagues to the business.