I'm in Vancouver today speaking at the BCHRMA's (British Columbia Human Resources Management Associations) annual conference. The topic? Corporate Values.
My take on corporate values is that it's complicated. We all feel compelled to put up hard to measure values like integrity and expect that it filters down to the troops via our managers of people. Meanwhile, countless companies actually have values like integrity embedded in their performance systems, expecting their managers to <shudder> rate employees on how they're doing from an integrity standpoint.
Integrity is super-important. But how do you rate someone on that who has never had an integrity issue?
Manager: "Jimmy, I gave you a meets on integrity. You're doing great."
Jimmy: "A meets on integrity? Really? I have high integrity. What do I have to do to get an exceeds?"
Manager: "Umm. Well, I guess in order to get an exceeds, I'd need you to report things you see that you think aren't right."
Jimmy: "So I have to be a whistleblower to get an exceeds on integrity?"
I've actually had that reported back to me in the past. The flip of that is that the manager just caves in and gives the exceeds, so everyone is happy but no conversation of value has actually been exchanged. Which is not necessary a values issue, perhaps it's simply a performance management issue.
I'll be sharing some research that outlines the most frequently cited corporate values across 100+ companies, but more importantly, I'll also be sharing some research that shows which values the following stakeholders value most and want to see in corporate value statements: a) the average employee, b) managers of people, and c) high performers.
As you might expect, they all want something different. Certain groups want values that underscore performance, others want the high-end values like integrity. Who do you please in that situation? What gets you the most (pun intended) value as a company?
Say hi if you're at the show in Vancouver today!