By Susan Keyes
I often get asked this question. And usually before I get the opportunity to draw breath to answer, hot on the heels comes a further question: “And do we really need both?” The thing is, and I hope to illustrate this here, is that the answer to the first question generally eliminates the need for the second.
Let’s look at both the EVP and Values and the roles each of them play. There are unquestionably overlaps; both serve to help the organisation achieve its goals, and both serve to shape behaviour and culture. The key to understanding the need for both lies in looking at your Values through two very specific lenses and asking two very specific questions:
Firstly, from the perspective of a potential employee: “Why should I join your organisation?”
Most likely your Values provide part of the answer. They’ll tell interested people what’s important to you and what guides what you do and how you do it. For people who know little about your organisation or what it’s like to work there, they’ll probably be able to infer from your Values a sense of what it might be like to work there. For example if your Values relate to putting the customer first, or treating people with respect and acting with integrity, or being at the forefront of industry innovation, it will certainly give people something to go on. But it takes work and imagination for people to envisage what it might be like to work with you based mainly on Values, and of course, they may get it wrong.
So what may be missing? Well this group of people will want to know what your organisation has to offer from a personal and career development point of view; is development primarily ‘on the job’ or do you have comprehensive, structured and formal programmes? They’ll also want to know what the “vibe” of the organisation is, for example does it have a work hard/play culture, is it down-to-earth and informal or is it something different entirely? What will the work be like? Does your organisation have a “one team” ethos or do different parts of the business operate quite independently? Chances are your Values don’t answer these questions explicitly. And that is where your EVP comes in.
Of course your Values will shine through your EVP, and as well as enabling you to articulate clearly and consistently what employees can to expect to get from working in your organisation, your EVP allows enables you to articulate what you expect from employees in return. This further helps potential role applicants assess whether your organisation is the right fit for them.
Secondly, from the perspective of an existing employee: “Why should I stay in this organisation, and why should I give of my very best to it?”
Again, your Values, which your employees will experience and live in their own day-to-day work, will provide some of the answer. But probably not all of it. Your employees too, will benefit from being reminded of what your organisation offers from an employment experience point of view, and what makes it great and different to any others. Being reminded in a positive (not condescending) and credible way through internal communications will help people recognise and appreciate what they get (in return for what they give), and also what they stand to gain in the future.
In order to appreciate the full range of benefits that having an EVP brings, there is a third lens through which it’s helpful to view, and that is through the lens of the HR function asking the question:
How can we attract and keep the best people, and how can we maximise their engagement with the organisation?
An EVP is an incredibly powerful tool for giving focus to HR (and Comms) activities. As an articulation of what the organisation aspires to, both in terms of employer brand reputation and employer brand experience, it serves simultaneously as driver, anchor and differentiator for shaping HR strategy, processes and communications. While the EVP need not necessarily replace anything the HR function is doing already, it will help bring the parts together to greater effect. And this is not a role your Values can fulfil on their own.
By Anthony Emmett
Understanding what isn’t working in a business is arguably as important as what is! Earlier this year I joined the operating board of the non-American division of a large international company, with a view to understanding and helping the newish CEO mould his team into an effective working unit.
Having spent the morning listening to the reporting of all present, the problem became apparent, each person present was doing a great job in fulling their operational obligations but wasn’t necessarily working for the team.
Just before lunch the CEO turned to me and asked me for my observations of the morning. Rather than answer him directly I asked if I could undertake a simple exercise to demonstrate what I believed was happening. I then asked everyone to write down what the CEO (including him) was trying to achieve and would be judged on this year. I explained that I was not trying to embarrass anyone but this would clearly demonstrate what was happening in the Executive team.
Three minutes later I asked the CEO to read what he had written. His vision for the year was met with silence. After what seemed like an age, (was in fact was 15 seconds) one direct report suggested “I think what I’ve written is pretty close to that”. The point was made and understood. Everyone acknowledged that although they were working hard and getting results in their own area of responsibility, this was sometimes at the expense of others in the room.
Solving these sorts of problems are hard to see from within, being clear as to what you are trying to achieve and being able to create a compelling rationale for everyone concerned is a business critical skill. The foundation of inspirational leadership.
“Living in a way that reflects one's values is not just about what you do it is also about how you do things.”
― Deborah Day
In our last blog, we shared the importance of personal leadership and asked you to think about what your core values are and how you live them. To enable you to reflect on this question in more depth, in this piece we provide a list of values and an exercise to help you think about this and how you express your values through your work.
Please download the file below. On the first page is a list of values and on the next page there is the opportunity to capture these values and express what they mean to you and why. Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. Once you know them, you can then make sure that you are driving your direction to enable you to unleash your values-based potential. Use your values as a compass that guides you both in action and your decision-making process.
By reflecting on our values and how we express them, we can live them more often, more intentionally, more passionately and more effectively.
Take the Value you express most or least at work
Dr Alex Morris:
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave 'em all over everything you do”
― Elvis Presley
When we like and respect a leader what is it about them that we actually admire? What are the common features? When we step back to think about commonalities, it’s about their values. These are often values that we share, admire or aspire to. When we think about leadership, we frequently think about ‘leading others’, but when we do this we often forget that to be a good leader we need to lead ourselves.
How we lead ourselves has a profound effect on our success as leaders of others. Business experts make the case that purpose is a key to exceptional performance, while psychologists describe it as the pathway to greater well-being. However, we find with our work with senior leaders across a wide range of private and public industries that it’s surprising how few people can articulate their values or purpose when asked. Many leaders know their vision or the company mission - think of Google’s “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” or IKEA’s: "To create a better everyday life for the many people."- but can struggle to articulate what gets them out of bed every morning.
One of our goals is to help change that—to help leaders find and define their leadership purpose and put it to use. Identifying what really matters to us can enable us to use that self-awareness to make a real difference to our leadership, engagement and fulfilment. This is authentic leadership-rather than asking people to emulate someone else, we work to help people to be the best version of themselves that they can be, identifying their values and purpose as a bedrock to developing themselves as leaders.
At its core, your leadership purpose springs from your identity, the essence of who you are. Purpose is not a list of the education, experience, and skills you’ve gathered in your life. Your purpose should be specific and personal and resonate with you alone. To discover your purpose, we often find that you first need to be aware of your values. Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. Once you know them, you can then make sure that you are strategically driving your direction to enable you to unleash your values-based potential.
Of course, it’s very difficult for any of us to fully live our purpose 100% of the time. But with self-reflection, some work and some planning, we can do it more often, more intentionally, more passionately, and more effectively.
In this blog, I will share one of my core values and what it means to me and in future blogs other members of the Strategic Awareness team will share one of theirs.
Alex: One of my core values is ‘making a difference’ and I explain why this value is so important to me personally and in my work here. I believe that we are all connected - everything we say and do ripples out to affect the world around us. As Herman Melville wrote:
“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibres, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
I am often reminded that it’s not material things, but our connections—to colleagues, friends, family, strangers, the living world, the atoms and the stars—that are our real treasures in life, and most deserving of our time and attention.
I also believe there is truth in the thoughts of physicist and philosopher, Sean Carroll (2016 p. 23) who argues “All lives are different, and some face hardships that others will never know. But we all share the same universe, the same laws of nature, and the same fundamental task of creating meaning and of mattering for ourselves and those around us in the brief amount of time we have in the world”. While acknowledging cultural, social and political differences, it is this ‘interconnectedness’ that underpins why I feel a responsibility to make a difference in the world. And it is a responsibility. For me I can do this through the people that I interact with and work with.
What are your core values and how do you live them?
“Living in a way that reflects one's values is not just about what you do it is also about how you do things.”
― Deborah Day
Last week was International Day of Happiness, and at the opposite end of the spectrum in January it was Blue Monday- tipped as the most depressing day of the year. Both made me focus on what I want to do differently or what I wished to maintain. In 2005 Dr Cliff Arnall, formerly of Cardiff University, came up with a light-hearted formula for predicting the glummest day of the year based on factors including debts, weather, time since Christmas and motivation. After the excitement of the holiday and the rush of ‘New Year, New Me’ resolutions it is the day when most of us struggle with the plans that we’ve made. January often starts with a long ‘to do’ list. Perhaps we’ve committed to a daily run, a healthier diet or to take up a daily mindfulness practice. By mid January it’s cold, it’s dark and the rain is lashing down – putting on the trainers and getting outside can feel like a particular struggle while that packet of chocolate biscuits in the office is calling.. We can start off with good intentions and a healthy dose of willpower but this can be hard to maintain.
Although I try to formally practice Mindfulness everyday, occasionally other things get in the way. Just as with my mindfulness practice, it can be easy to feel that we’ve fallen at the first hurdle and give up. However, Dr Arnall suggests we could use Blue Monday as a springboard for change- to make the most of our lives and live it to the full. Instead of seeing Blue Monday as a time to look at what we’ve failed to achieve…we can use it as a time to reflect and renew…we can always re-start. It’s as simple as knowing what we want for the future and re-committing to it. So we can see ‘Blue Monday’ as a time to begin again. International Day of Happiness reminded me to begin again..again.
This is Mindful Leadership – being present, reconnecting with who we want to be and coming back to that even in times of uncertainty or struggle. For me, my Mindfulness practice allows me to re connect with not just what I want to achieve but also the question of who I want to be. It allows greater clarity. Being more mindful is not an intellectual exercise or one that we ‘fail’ at. Although I can be self-critical if I miss a practice, I remind myself that re-starting can be as simple as becoming aware of my breath, letting my mind settle and observing it for the next 5 minutes. Mindful Leadership allows us to live life one breath, one moment at a time and when necessary, observing the opportunity to begin our practice once more. By constantly committing to be more mindful one practice at a time, it can have real impact. We just need to start.
A simple and quick way of doing this is to start the day with an attitude of renewal and purposeful intention.
1). On waking and before ‘starting’ your day, bring your attention to your breath and follow that for 10 breaths. If your mind wanders, just bring it back to the sensation of the breath moving in and out of the body.
2). Next, think of one thing that you are grateful for.
3). Finish the practice with one intention for the day.