UK Company Determines Team Values

A value is an idea in which we are willing to invest time, energy and resources to either achieve or avoid.

Tad James & Wyatt Woodsmall

Common values provide a foundation for understanding, integrity and even codes of conduct. When we act in ways that honour our values we feel fulfilled,inspired, motivated and committed. Little wonder then, that common values are the foundation for organisational success.

In January 2006, Lawton Group embarked on a values-based staff initiative. When they could not find a suitable presenter in the UK, Lawton flew two Melbourne-based Life Performance practitioners to London to facilitate their New Beginnings Program.

The two weeks work we did with Life Performance was the critical opening stage to designing and implementing cultural change to the agency. Without the high levels of commitment from staff that resulted from their full involvement in setting the values for the agency, we would not have been able to open our free bar, change our staff benefits system and invest in tens of thousands of pounds worth of training for the year.

Matt Lawton

Carol Fox and Kathryn Gorman worked with over 100 Lawton employees to elicit their individual values and to then determine the values common across the majority of the employees.

So what values drive one of the UK’s largest independent marketing communications agencies?

Happiness and fun. Family. Security. Confidence. Trust and Respect.

Not quite the traditional customer service, quality control clichés of the ‘90s. Rather, these values are core to employee motivation, fulfilment and satisfaction. And in commercial terms they equate to increased productivity, reduced staff turnover and higher staff morale.

Having undertaken the challenge of determining team values, Lawton took their commitment to these values seriously and so set about maintaining the workshops’ momentum.

Yet how often have you attended a workshop and found the outcomes become lost in day-to-day activities and stresses? Lawton Group took their commitment seriously.

So how do Lawton ‘live’ their values?

They created five values-based teams. The teams are staffed by volunteers who undertake to keep the spirit of their values healthy and functional at all levels of the organisation.

There’s Team Confidence, Team Security, Team Fun Happiness, Team Trust and Respect and Team Family.

Here are two examples of how these teams promote Lawton values company-wide. Team Confidence send regular email updates that give someone within the organisation a pat on the back. . . and a Cadbury ‘Boost’ bar for a job well done (see right).

It’s simple, fairly corny, yet a highly visible way that Lawton employees applaud each other’s successes no matter how big or small.

And imagine formally receiving ‘5 minutes of irreverence and irrelevance’ (see left). Wouldn’t that make the day more enjoyable? Lawton employees think so; hence the creation of Captain Fun who delivers Happ-e-mails faster than a speeding bullet.

These emails alert employees to sporting fixtures, opportunities to join sporting teams, social outings and basically anything totally unrelated to work, yet totally in line with our basic needs as social beings.

Team Family are charged with supporting the following:
  • Your family are important to our family
  • We respect you as an individual and appreciate the difference you make to our family
  • We help each other and work together for the family’s common goal
  • We can bring the best family values into the workplace

Their mission is twofold – to foster a family atmosphere between Lawton employees creating a caring and loyal Lawton family and to honour employees’ commitment to their own individual families.

They discuss company policy issues that affect family life eg. a program through which employees can salary sacrifice into childcare. And they co-ordinate family activities; a family night in held on the premises so employees with families can bring their children and a summer party where families can relax, play games and enjoy a barbecue are two current suggestions.

Team Trust and Respect ensure there is a two-way flow of trust and respect from the organisation to employees and visa versa. Practically, that means having policies, procedures and behavioural codes that are underpinned by these values.

And for their first activity, Team Trust and Respect exemplified their ideal by seeking opinions from staff. Asking people what they would like and giving it to them is a great way to validate their opinions, values and emotions. It also makes them feel an integral part of the company’s success.

Lawton’s Team Security provides training sessions to staff called: ‘What do you do then?’ These presentations address any security challenges that employees might have; from financial security to physical security. The aim is to provide an environment that fosters a sense of empowerment and gives staff the knowledge and where appropriate, the resources to development and maintain security in all areas of their lives.

Lawton is tracking the impact of this initiative with bi-annual staff survey’s on their organisational culture.

Even if your organisation is not intrinsically creative, your team has all the resources they need to ensure their team values thrive.

Here’s a couple of suggestions to whet your creative appetites:
  • Ask team members to suggest ways to keep the spirit alive.
  • Start an internal newsletter with editorial control rotating through a different department each month.
  • Once a month hold a bake-off competition (bring on the chocolate cake!) and at the end of the year create a booklet with the favourite recipes with proceeds from sales going to a Team-chosen not-for-profit.
  • Have a noticeboard where anyone can post a ‘trumpeting’ of how another team member honoured the values.
  • Have regular, informal lunches involving team members from different levels within the organisation.

Okay . . . now it’s over to you. Remember, no matter what your core business is, you can keep your Team Values alive and supporting the champions within.