I had the privilege of visiting a couple of church memebers this week at their work place. They run a large and successful business, and I was impressed by their structual organization and clear articulation of core values. Of particular interest to me was a couple of pages of do’s and don’ts in their welcome document. Now we could all sign up to the do’s (strive for excellence, embrace change, plan for the future etc.), but the don’ts are where it’s uncomfortable, and actually most useful. Here are some of them:
- leave things unfinished
- choose dubious business partners
- undervalue our strengths
- criticise or complain about colleagues behind their backs
- blame others
- over promise and under deliver
- use bad language
- fail to keep our promises and commitments
- cover up mistakes
- waste resources
- abuse trust
That’s a pretty interesting list of things to find in a business core values document. It displays the ethical integrity of the owners, and provides them with a means of accountability for employer and employee.
But perhaps here’s where the rubber hits the road for church leaders – do you/would you have a document like this for your organization? Do you have a document which not only lists positive attitudes and behaviours, but also unacceptable behaviours and attitudes – a document which enables you to keep staff and volunteers accountable for their roles and responsibilities? So, next time your [fill in the blank] team leader misses a deadline or fails to complete a task well, we can remind them of our explicit core values – as an organization we won’t blame others or cover up mistakes. Or next time the ‘turf-war’ breaks out over resources we can remind our people that we won’t criticize or complain behind other people’s backs. Much of this stuff we agree to tacitly. I wonder whether making it explicit helps leaders and team members keep one another on track without it feeling like a personal attack. Making our core values (positive and negative) explicit can only help to clarify what we’re about, which in turn helps us to clarify what we do and why.