Much has been written about the advantages of value based organizations, but how do organizations achieve this? Window dressing with slogans and posters brings more cynicism than interest, and yet what is the path towards high engagement. We work with companies to design corporate values and identify programs which are multi-faceted, inclusive and holistic. One important principle of our work is to create an environment for dialogue.
In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change. Thich Nhat Hanh
Many types of communications occur in organizations: discussions about results, plans, tasks; debates about the best course of action; sparring sessions to challenge opinions about options; meetings in which the boss gives instructions to direct reports. To provide the opportunity for a different type of conversation, we often include in the design of our work moments for dialogue – conversations about who we are and are becoming together.
Dialogue is a key element of our programs as the means of fostering recognition of differences and preferences, building respect for colleagues in one’s team and organization, and opening the communication channels for effective reconciliation. Through this process, employees build trust and shared commitments to bring the change necessary in these dynamic times and create innovative solutions for the complicated issues facing organizations.
Imagine you have been given the task to go interview your colleague. And the interview is about the values of your company. Your assignment will not be judged, will not have an impact on your performance review, and will not impact your results. And this is also true for your interviewee. So the pressure on the conversation is low – it is simply to have a dialogue about something which is very important, but given little attention – the company culture of which you are a part.
My partners and I have been working with an international bank that has grown through mergers and geographic expansion. The client leadership recognized the benefit of creating a common understanding of the bank through shared company values and behaviours. In fact, corporate values and behaviours in themselves are not the glue that bring online pokies employees together – it is the dialogue about the values, behaviours and the culture people are creating that leads to a shared understanding. And this was true in this culture program.
Through a series of engagements, we had a list of values and behaviours from employees at different levels of the organization which needed to be validated in the wider organization. We organized employees throughout the company to be our Ambassadors and together they interviewed over 15% of the total employees. At the post-review meetings with the Ambassadors, we were humbled by the deep connections the Ambassadors had with their colleagues, which they had not expected. The dialogue about the culture they were a part of and creating together, a topic they had previously rarely discussed, left many of them surprised, grateful for other perspectives, more conscious of their roles in the company, and hopeful for more of these interactions.
‘At first I was hesitant about this exercise, but in fact I enjoyed speaking with my colleagues about the values of our company and what our company is besides the strategy and operations.’
‘Many of my interviewees were glad to have the opportunity to discuss their views on what the company means, and to contribute to the future’.
‘I selected people I did not know well and did not work with. It was nice to have this opportunity to connect with them, and to hear their point of view.’
The next steps in this program include dialogues within intact teams to consider the culture within their team context – their objectives, responsibilities and shared goals. How they work together given what they do together.
Through programs including dialogue we expand our understanding, we connect with others on a human level, and we continue the journey of personal development which leads to improved performance across functions, markets and geographic boundaries. Please contact InterAct for more information on our programs to create a shared corporate culture and identity in your organization. firstname.lastname@example.org