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Trainer’s Diary: The Value Judgement


Byron KaliesValues sessions can help focus a team to reach and understand their goals. But only if those goals are worth more than the paper they are written on, says Byron Kalies.

One of the sessions I most enjoy facilitating concerns setting a team values. The key to this session, for me, is honesty and the willingness to take a risk. There are teams that never have these discussions. There are also organisations that never have these discussions or choose three or four trite words from the list: honesty; excellence; integrity; professionalism; respect; openness; valued; customer-focused; communication: and truth.

Even when organisations espouse those values the way they carry them out, and monitor them has to be seen to be worthwhile and valued. For instance , the following values were espoused by a large Organisation:
“Communication - We have an obligation to communicate. Here, we take the time to talk with one another… and to listen. We believe that information is meant to move and that information moves people.

Respect - We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment.

Integrity - We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it.

Excellence - We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do. We will continue to raise the bar for everyone. The great fun here will be for all of us to discover just how good we can really be.”

Which sounds brilliant until you discover the organisation was Enron and you start having second thoughts about the value of the words alone.

However, back to the sessions – unless a team has these sessions on values and discusses them there will be problems. What frequently happens is that the team stagnates. In terms of Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing model it stops at the Storming stage. This tends to happen as individuals are afraid to take a risk and cause potential upset. The value of a value session, if it works effectively, is that people will be given permission to take chances, to challenge one another. This will help the team through the Storming stage.

The difficulty running these sessions successfully comes from that problem of building up the trust in the first place. One way of doing this is to have small sessions at the end of each regular meeting and look at one aspect. Then, when it’s time for a “proper” session there is some degree of buy-in already.

I have also seen teams try to run these sessions by themselves. This tends to be disastrous, even amongst training teams (especially amongst training teams). It is impossible not to give yourself away when facilitating your own team. It’s difficult enough with other teams.

Perhaps the worse example I’ve heard about concerning values in action was from a colleague at a training department. On his first day he was handed a card the size of a postcard with a list of the values on it. Needless to say he didn’t exactly feel that he had any ‘ownership’ and at a later date proceeded to rip it up saying that he didn’t need a xxxx A6 piece of card telling him he had to be xxxx honest and show xxxx respect to his colleagues!

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Claire Savage

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