Friday, 29 June 2012

Derek Irvine on Making the abstract real: Living workplace values

I reproduce this excellent blog by Derek Irvine, which appears over at HRZone, but may be missed by many who aren't registered to that site. All work is Derek's- I just want you all to see it!


Recognise This! – Your company values do you no good unless employees know how to live them in their daily work.

I think it’s a fairly safe bet to say most companies today have defined set of core values – behaviors and ideals the executive team has invested a good deal of time and effort in defining as the “how” of employee efforts as they work to complete the “what” (results/deliverables).
There is a very great difference, however, in having values, knowing the values and actually living the values in your daily work.
Having Values
What do I mean by having the values? I’m sure many of have worked in (or are currently working in) organisations that require you to carry the company values around as part of your building access badge. Or perhaps you received the values in the employee handbook when you first started with the company.
“Employee engagement and [recognition] programmes are designed to induce behaviours in employees that will help you grow the business. Running alongside this, you have ‘values’ – a set of shared beliefs that you wish to instil throughout the organisation. They are not one and the same thing."
However, at Kohl’s, many years ago, gratitude was shown by rewarding employees with rubber bracelets. There would be four bracelets in total – your aim was to achieve a full set, each one representing one of the company’s values.
It was viewed by many as cheap, and nobody wore them. Kohl’s simply wasted their money by having the rubber bands made in the first place, and created a feeling within the workforce that they were cheap.
Not only were employees somewhat insulted by the gesture, since they didn’t even wear the bracelets it’s unlikely they could even be said to “have” the values.
Knowing the Values
Knowing the values, but not living them, is no better.
An example of this comes to us from the Chief Happiness Officer blog, in which author Alexander Kjerulf shared this quote from a recent conference he attended: "You know a corporate values programme is doomed to fail when they start printing mouse mats with the values." - Henrik Burkal, CEO of REMA1000 Denmark.
Sure, you can require employees to recite the values to you when they see you in the hall. But reciting them doesn’t mean the individual knows what each of those values looks like in his or her own daily work. Think about a common company value of “integrity.”
A worthy value, indeed, but very abstract. This needs to be made real for employees.
One client of ours helps to make this abstract value real for their employees by specifically recognising and praising them for doing things they might have been punished for in the past.
For example: “Steve, thank you for reporting the broken equipment in a timely way. This allowed us to get it repaired and back on-line quickly. You showed great integrity by taking responsibility for the break, communicating to the team how you think such breakage can be avoided in the future, and enabling us all to get back up and running.”
If you want your employees to live your values every day, then make them real. Recognise and reward them – and let them recognise and reward each other – whenever the values are being demonstrated through the work.
Do your employees have your values, know your values, or truly live your values? Do you?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Look back and smile

Exciting times. We're about to appear in our local Chamber of Commerce newsletter as new members. In the course of writing our piece for that I stumbled across the below, a piece I wrote for when we were featured on the BlueBiz blog a while back and I thought I'd share it. Things have come on quite nicely since then but it warms my heart to see that we've stayed true to what we believe in...

            1) Tell us about your business:

Treacletiger is a venture that’s grown from our work with small businesses providing HR support, health & wellbeing programmes and all the kind of stuff business owners need, want and would love to have to build skills and value in their company.

We work with your existing team to develop HR and employee surveys and policies that have genuine worth. There’s a world of difference between a policy that sits on a shelf gathering dust and one that really informs how you do business.

We can review your existing policies and bring you bang up to date. We won’t clutter your business with policies for the sake of having them; our support is realistic and aligned with your business’ values and culture.

Oh yes- realistic. That also means affordable. We don’t believe there’s anything to be achieved by demanding huge investment of cash or time. We’ll reflect your position, rather than imposing our own terms on a business. We believe strongly in keeping the client in the driving seat, because that’s how we’ve experienced the greatest impact and positive change. If a business’ people are part of the change, their voices are heard and their value appreciated, they ‘buy in’ more readily... and working together with common aims is better than imposing change on anyone.

We’ve designed a simple to use health & wellbeing programme that not only offers a survey of all staff by a trained professional, but that we can coach to your people so that you feel confident in running with it in years to come- and developing it to support your business. This programme has been implemented in several businesses now, and we’ve seen reductions in sickness absence, stress levels and unhappiness at work whilst staff loyalty job satisfaction, productivity and confidence in the business has risen.

We offer varying levels of support- if you just want to get the basics right, sure, that’s a great place to start. But if you want to move things up a notch we can help you on the road to accreditations such as Investors In People and ISO standards.

            2)    When did you start your business and where did the idea come from ?

We’ve worked with a number of businesses in the last five years and seen positive results; in 2011 my partner Steve and I decided that what we do has value for small businesses struggling to cope, or who cannot justify engaging a full time HR or training professional. We saw a solution, and we’re looking forward to helping others develop using the techniques we’ve tried, tested and know to work.

            3)    Where do you see yourself in 5 years time ?

We’d love to be working with some seriously creative and challenging organisations, developing our skills and knowledge further and loving every day of it!

            4)    Can you offer any advice to anyone thinking  
            of starting a new business ?

Don’t wait til you’re ready- that day never comes! You don’t need a huge start-up budget, marketing guru or fancy office. You just need focus, commitment, and the ability to engage others when you speak about your business. If you’re going to do it, go into it with all your heart and soul. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes- that’s how we learn after all.

            5)    And finally, what do you think of social media marketing for small businesses ?

Social networks like Twitter are changing the playing field for start-ups, and are essential marketing tool. They do take time to maintain if you’re doing it right, but it’s fun and you’re gathering info on what your audience wants as well as building connections, so where’s the harm? Our advice would be to make friends, share info, be yourself and be helpful. Don’t auto-tweet- be genuine. Be original. Have fun. Don’t just spam followers with your mission statement or ‘special offers’- take time to chat to them, understand their needs and don’t be afraid to offer a little free advice or help if you can. You really do get what you give on these sites.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Getting over i-fear

I have a long-held antipathy to a certain technology giant's products (not stating names but it does rhyme with Mapple), finding them awkward and as user-unfriendly as it's possible to get. This dates back to attempting to master a Mac when I worked for a printing company about 9 years ago, and almost drop-kicking it through a window in frustration and sheer temper. As a result of this experience I've resisted joining the i-generation for many years. 

Recently, I've made a great friend in a gentleman of 62 years of age who arrives at meetings equipped with i-this and i-that. He sweeps through meetings making notes and seems delightfully happy with the gadgets at his disposal and the things they can do for him. I've watched my 3 year old niece and 4 year old nephew masterfully operate the tablet and play games (and crack passcodes) on the phones.

What this has shown me is that it's me, not the hardware or the software that's the problem. It's shown me that things could be so much smoother and that we could deliver a better experience for our clients if I just got over myself. Sometimes it's not about your misgivings, but looking at what it'll do for others, and making a decision beyond your own fear and anxiety.

So I'm taking the plunge and have signed up to the i-crowd. As I type my own tablet is winging its way to me. I've not gone for the turbo-super-duper latest version, as the one below that will do a grand job indeed as far as I can see. Sometimes it's about having what's required and mastering that- getting the basics right before you dress it up and go all out to impress.

Watch this space for news of airborne technology and pleas for help in navigating my way around the system.

Friday, 8 June 2012


Thanks all for bearing with me while I've taken a few days away to head over to Ireland to see my brother make an honest woman of a braver girl than I.

Ireland is a lovely place; the people are as friendly as you're led to expect, the landscape as green as you're promised, and the pace of life something to either inspire or madden you, depending on whether you've been able to leave your city ways behind or not. I couldn't entirely, though one thing did win my respect- the Irish attitude to their financial travails.

When I spoke to anyone about the austerity measures in place and the fact that life is hard for the people there as a result, I was met with a smile and a shrug, and an occasional "Well, it won't last forever." It struck me that the Irish are setting out to make their own luck, rather than wait for anyone else to fix the problem for them. They have a positivity about them that defies expectations. That, and their friendly and welcoming ways, meant they made an impression on me that won't fade fast.

The wedding itself was wonderful- it all went to plan, the bride and groom were deliriously happy, we all looked ruddy fabulous, and the venue was perfect. My Mum cried, my brother cried, the kids all went nuts on fresh air and excitement, and we all laughed a lot. And danced like mad things.

I've come back today to three potential new clients, a crisis averted thanks to having given good advice, the opportunity to help a growing business and have some fun with it all.

It's going to be a good Summer...