How 3 V’s can define the North Star for your organisation
In our previous articles we have taken you through the key elements which make up the Talent Management lifecycle of ASPIRE: Acquisition, Succession Planning, Improvement, Retention and Engagement. We are now starting to explore some of the key aspects which support these elements, and will go into further detail on these topics. Having introduced the subject of Retention and Engagement in our last article, this article looks at the importance of creating alignment for your team with your company’s vision and values, and starts to open up the subject of culture, and culture design.
When your team is aligned with a common vision, values and visual representation of this, the business decisions, communication, meetings and team dynamics shift to a more professional, calm and assured level.
As we discussed in our previous video and article, Engage for Success talk about strategic narrative (business story or vision) & organisational integrity (values) being 2 of the 4 Enablers of Engagement. When we talk to organisations who are looking to make improvements in their business we explain the vital importance of creating this alignment for their teams as a foundation on which to base all other improvement activities. We call this model the 3V’s – your company vision, it’s values and a visual representation of this.
Does your business have a North Star?
Does your organisation have a vision and a set of values? Chances are you will be able to answer ‘yes’ to this question. It is common practice in organisations today; most likely Head Office, or the corporate or leadership team will have got together to create a vision and a set of values which may feature on in your company induction handbook, be on your corporate literature, or be displayed in your reception. Have this vision and values have been cascaded comprehensively throughout the business so that each employee knows the part they play in achieving the businesses objectives and goals?
The 3V’s, and it’s 3 component parts, is your North Star, your guiding light and the line of sight for the people in your business. Defining the company vision, the set of values or behaviours that are expected from each and every individual and creating a visual to encapsulate this – as we all know a picture speaks a thousand words – helps you to determine the culture that you want to create for your organisation.
‘Two moving parts’
Business investor, hedgefund manager and philanthropist Ray Dalio is renowned for his education theories, philosophies and principles. You can follow him across the social platforms sharing said principles from his book ‘Principles’. One of these is ‘There are two moving parts in any business – culture and people’. This resonates with us, and how we try to help the organisations that we work with. If there are two moving parts in a business, how can we bring these two together? For us the 3V’s helps that to happen. It helps to start to look at the culture we want to create, and then allows us to create that line of sight which will enable your teams to align themselves to where the business is going.
Lack of alignment leads to reduced engagement
It is well known that culture and engagement are linked. As explored in our previous article, according to Gallup’s 2017 release of the State of the Global Workplace report, worldwide engagement levels have dropped to 15%. If your people do not have this alignment to your business objectives and goals it can be felt across the organisation, in a lack of engagement, reduced effort and commitment, lower retention levels and an undesirable culture to work in. Your strategic narrative, purpose or vision, is what your employees need to be able to hang their hat on. If they cannot understand the part in which they play towards your organisations success, objectives and over all purpose, they are less likely to be engaged and unlikely to fulfil their potential.
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What is Culture?
In 1980’s MIT professor Edgar Schein developed an organisational culture model to make culture more visible within an organisation. There are many versions of this model but we like this iceberg metaphor as it lends itself well to explaining the various layers which can be found within an exploration of organisational culture. Schein divided organisational culture into 3 layers; artefacts, espoused values and underlying assumptions.
Artefacts are the outwardly visible elements of an organisation, such as logos, symbols, branding, uniforms, design features, specific processes etc. These elements are not only visible to employees within the business, but are also visible and recognisable to people outside of the business.
Espoused values, or the corporate values and morals important to an organisation, are values or behaviours which the organisation has adopted to guide its people in how it aspires to conduct its business. These are the corporate head office values often displayed on the walls.
Underlying assumptions form the core essence of an organisation, its intrinsic values, beliefs, attitudes and behavioural blueprint which truly drives the culture in your business.
As Schein says: “Cultural understanding is essential to leaders if they are to lead”. It is vital that leaders really understand the culture that exists in the business, and if it’s not the culture that you want you need to know how to change it. Using a model like the 3V’s can really bring this to life, and can be used to design the culture that you want to have in your organisation, and can help you to implement it.
The 3V’s can help you design the culture you want
Where to start?
Firstly, designing and developing the 3V’s for your organisation has got to start with your leadership team. We often find in organisations that it is not actually always clear who the leadership team is, so it is really important to identify this key group. It is not necessarily those people responsible for the various functions across your organisation, but rather the decision makers, those who are leading the business into future and who provide the direction for the business.
What exactly are the 3V’s?
As we’ve mentioned before, the 3V’s stand for Vision, Values and Visual Representation, and can be explained as follows:
This is your vision statement for the organisation, or company story, which covers where you are going for a minimum of 3-5 years. It is the line of sight for your employees and should be short, easy to remember, emotionally engaging and inclusive. For example, Disney’s vision is ‘helping people have fun’. It’s just a group of a few words, but it’s got to have meaning behind it. It’s got to mean something to the leadership team, but also to everyone in the organisation. So make sure you’ve got a well thought out vision statement for the next three to five years that’s going to really emotionally connect with people in the organisation.
For what needs to be such a simple statement, this can actually be a really difficult process to get to! It really can help to have a structured process to facilitate this.
What is a value at the end of the day? It is something which is important to you. So what’s important, what are the values and the behaviours which are important to the organisation? Values can be tricky to work out and we will explore this further in a future article, and explain how you can dig a bit deeper into how you actually identify some of those values underlying the day-to-day behaviours that are going to support those values. The key thing here is to focus not on the word of the value itself, but your definition of that word and to state what it means to your organisation.
The vision can be thought of in terms of the ‘where you are going’, and the values the behaviours is the ‘how you’re going to get there’. Sometimes we will see a vision and a set of values which is no longer relevant. You could argue you might as well just start another business, because the one that you had doesn’t exist anymore. Certainly you’ll need to create a new vision, and a new set of values, because it has to be the right vision and the right values for that company, and it has to be relevant.
Once you’ve got your company’s vision and set of values, it is really helpful to come up with a visual representation of this. This then really helps to cascade and communicate the vision and the values right through your organisation. As we all know, a picture paints a thousand words. This will be different for every client, and relevant to each particular organisation.
And in the spirit of a picture painting a thousand words… it’s as easy to show you an example of one we did earlier (à la Blue Peter) as it would be to explain it!
The 3P Roadmap
This is our own 3V’s; we call it our Roadmap and this is on the wall in our office. It’s actually a wipe clean display and we write on it, update it and refer to it on a regular basis. (It’s a blank version for the purposes of this article so we don’t give away all our trade secrets!)
You can see on the left hand side our vision statement which is ‘Unleashing People’s Potential’ which is what we want to do as a business. Underneath sit our values, and the definition of those values as what each of them means to us in our business, and what that would also mean to our clients.
It denotes the road to success for our business, and this road is leading towards a temple. The temple is a visual representation of all the supporting pillars which will help us and enable us to achieve success. Every single one of those will show an innovation, which might be a product or be a service which helps us to support us as we grow people and we grow talent and we grow business. Every one of those pillars is bringing something that will enable us to achieve our vision of unleashing people’s potential.
We use the milestones and obstacles as measures on particular projects. The roadmap also helps us when we’re looking at making decisions; so we think ‘does it align with our vision statement of unleashing people’s potential? It’s the thing you hang your hat on, you think, is it a yes? Is it a no? Does it fit? Is it making us money? Well, yes it might be but it’s not unleashing anybody’s potential. It is counter to the vision statement and that will not give us that long-term satisfaction and direction that we need’.
It shows clearly what we’re about as a business, where we are going and how each person in our business can fit in to that. We hope it helps to illustrate what we’ve covered in this article.
How to get your 3V’s to bring those two moving parts – people and culture – together
We will look deeper into culture design in our next article, video and podcast. In the meantime, to summarise here are the 3 key things to consider to bring those two elements together:
1. Make sure you identify that leadership team who will design the 3V’s which will impact culture and people in your organisation. Again, these are the decision makers, those who will lead the business to the future and create the direction for the organisation.
2. Your 3V’s needs to be live document – it provides the narrative to cascade your vision and your values right throughout your business and should be relevant and up to date otherwise you won’t be achieving your business objectives and goals.
3. Consider how you cascade this and communicate it out to the rest of your organisation? Consider the cohort you will need to engage to help with that – your frontline managers. As we’ve mentioned in previous articles those managers and leaders who make up 5% of your organisation have the ‘Power of 95’. They are your key influencers who will influence the other 95% of your workforce.
Get them on board with your 3V’s first and then look at how they then can help to take this onwards to their teams. Frontline managers are a group who are sometimes left out at this part of the process – it is assumed they ‘get this’, are bought in and then so are often missed out on the engagement process and the leadership team take it straight to the masses.
Get them engaged first, get their buy in and they will help you to live that through the business and to engage the rest of your teams.
Alignment with your company’s vision and values, for your leadership team, your management teams and the rest of our people, is about culture and engagement and 3V’s a good starting point to allow you to do that.
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Peak Performance Partnership Ltd (3P) is a Business Performance Consultancy specialising in Talent Management. ASPIRE by 3P is our talent management solution which supports the talent life cycle of Acquisition, Succession Planning, Improvement and Retention & Engagement.
Co-authored by Lindsay McGhie, Trevor Norman and Michelle Manning