If there’s one thing Gradvert leadership and management coach Alan Shaw is passionate about, it’s helping businesses champion the values they believe in.
But central to this are the behaviours that underpin these values - the visible expressions of the principles that are important to the way we do things.
This is a view shared by Gradvert MD Michaela Reaney, who recently asked Alan, in conjunction with his colleagues, to develop the Values and Behaviour Framework that is now at the very heart of the Gradvert culture and character.
“Values are not about the people who run a business, they are the fabric of every person involved in Gradvert. A collective with a shared purpose. Our values are at the heart of our culture and will be used to hire new people, attract new clients and partners. They will be used to measure and change behaviour for the success of Gradvert. It is not the words that will make the difference, but the conversation and how we integrate our values into every day interactions.” said Michaela.
Gradvert’s values and behaviours’ journey began on a team away day where employees at the Newcastle-based company, which specialises in helping businesses develop talent and improve performance, worked together to define their values.
“We talked about what the values really mean to the way we do things,” said Alan. “We addressed the fact that they are the guiding principles - they are the mantra of everything we do.
“We went through a whole series of challenging statements as a team and we came up with what we believe reflected who we are as a business and who we are as a team.”
This process allowed Gradvert to collectively decide on its four key values – Do the Right Thing, One Team, Curiosity, and A Love of Learning.
Each of these values has specific behaviours - tangible actions that help Gradvert understand what to expect of each other, how to put values consistently into action, and measure how well they are living these values. Alan said: “Setting values can be the easy part but it’s meaningless unless they are supported by appropriate behaviours, and people who are willing to have mature, honest conversations with each other to ensure that the behaviours are embedded.
“It can be quite a challenge to have that accountability and have those conversations but it’s about rising above that and thinking about our One Team approach.”
The next challenge came as the team began to incorporate the new values and behaviours into their everyday routines.
“There was a real positive feeling when we were developing our values and behaviours but once you start living and breathing it, you must make sure there isn’t a difference between how you feel and how you act as inevitably actions speak louder than words,” said Alan.
To keep values at the forefront of everything the company does, Gradvert asks all of its employees, including its top leadership team, to make a personal commitment pledging to live these principles on a daily basis.
The pledges, displayed in the Gradvert’s Hoult’s Yard headquarters, serve as a visible reminder and a benchmark for ongoing review and recognition of great things happening.
So with the values and behaviours now successfully embedded in the Gradvert way of life, what advice would Alan have for others?
“Firstly, values are not just about the people who run a business.” said Alan. “The whole process must be about people contributing to them, believing in them, and feeling part of something.
“Also the people at the top have to genuinely and effectively role model living the values and behaviours and if you do that then people will buy into it.”
Finally, Alan recommends Gradvert’s unique approach of having employees set out their commitment in writing.
“Ask your team to make a pledge making their personal commitment to the values and behaviours,” he advised. “It creates ownership and it’s something you can all reflect on and use to evaluate how well you are doing.”