Pathways and Pitfalls to Giving Personal Recognition and Appreciation
By: Jim Clemmer
Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. His web site is http://www.clemmer.net/
"If the 'Know Thyself' of the oracle were an easy thing, it would
not be held to be a divine injunction."
Effectively using values to care for the context and provide focus to a
team or organization has two major steps: 1) clarifying and prioritizing
shared values; 2) living and behaving according to those aspirations. Both
can be very difficult leadership acts.
Here are some ways to clarifying and prioritizing shared values:
Your team's shared values should represent a blend of those principles
from your past that you want to preserve and the beliefs that your team
will need to share as you look to your preferred future. Looking at the
past respects and builds on your organization's heritage, successes, and
strengths. It helps to turn resistance to change into confidence and energy
for facing the future. To look at future values, you're examining the underside
of your team or organization’s vision. To make the picture of your preferred
future reality calls for a different set of priorities about what's really
- If your management team hasn't developed an explicit set of core values,
this is the place to start. Here's what you're after:
- Three to four words or short phrases (five words or less) that you can
use as "verbal pegs" to cluster or summarize many of the related
values at the top of your values hierarchy.
- Words or short phrases that are easy to understand and meaningful to your
team and organization.
- Broad understanding and ownership of the core values by everyone on your
team or in your organization.
Debating and developing your core values should follow the development
of your shared vision. Values clarification can be a painful process. But
it doesn't have to be long and drawn out. If you have a skilled facilitator
lead you, it's common to have a rough version of your team's shared values
words or short phrases within a few hours. That's because shared values
aren't created they're uncovered or articulated.
As you try to articulate your espoused or aspired values, don't allow yourself
to fall into the trap of "we're not living this way now so it can't
be a value." Like visioning, you're trying to describe where you want
to be. Once you know what you what to become, then you can work on making
these lived values.
- Once your team has developed your core values, we've found the following
exercise is a useful way to further debate, try them on for size, and start
management teams into the most important part of values — living them.
You can break into three groups or do this as a large group brainstorming
and discussion exercise.
Here's the exercise using three groups (for the large group discussion,
do these in the same way and order): 1) One group brainstorms a list of
ways to visibly signal each value to the rest of the organization. These
must be specific such as "meet with our distributors to get their
ideas and feedback". Not motherhood generalities like "communicate
better." 2) Another group discusses ways that the team and/or individuals
on the team, often inadvertently violates each value. 3) The last group
looks at ways the team and individuals on it can get feedback from others
in the organization on how well they are living the values.
Now everyone gets back together to hear and discuss each group's perspectives.
Action plans and next steps conclude the process.
- Unless you're trying to build an old-fashioned command and control organization
culture, you need wide debate, discussion, and ownership of a set of shared
core values. This consensus building process can take a fair bit of time
and energy. It's usually best combined with discussions of the organization's
vision, and an outline of, or invitation to input to, the organization
improvement plans and process. Some organizations have started with blank
sheets of paper and invited the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people
throughout their organization to articulate the organization's core values.
We've found that to be a slow and inefficient process. It's rarely worth
all the extra work of gathering, consolidating, reviewing, summarizing,
debating, and finally deciding on core values. We prefer a cascading process
that starts with senior management and moves down through the organization.
The values are presented as being rough or in a draft form. If they need
further refinement or clarification, that's a useful output of the participative
process. However, be careful not to just tack new values or ideas on the
end. If you get beyond four words or short phrases you no longer have critical,
core values. You now have a list.