Ethics, Values & Mission – Oh My!

lions tigers & bearsHow inconsistent messaging can be costing you more than you realise

I’ve had some really interesting conversations with people, both online and in the flesh (shock horror!) after last week’s post on ethics. To me, it seems like there is a clear consensus among individuals that if an organisation, public or private, uses its mission, values or ethics in its brand (whether that is internally or externally) then it needs to live and breathe them.

But, both employees and leaders of those organisations consistently lament that there seems to be a breakdown between the promoted brand and the hypocrisy of what actually happens within the workplace. (If this is an area you’re interested in, check out some of Steve Simpson’s work on ‘Unwritten Ground Rules‘ – very interesting.)

So how does an organisation that has committed itself to values, a mission or a message ensure that the statement is lived and breathed internally on a day to day basis?

Long answer short? Never rest on your laurels.

Yes, you might be a private company with an excellent brand and you are seen as a desirable place to work. Yes, you might be a highly respected NFP who has to turn highly skilled volunteers away at the door.

But… (there’s always a but isn’t there?) It’s not one thing that will trip you up. It’s 100 small things, instances if viewed in isolation are all 100% reasonable decisions. Things like;

  • Not advertising a position when you have the perfect 2ic ready to take the reigns*
  • Employees/stakeholders witnessing behaviour seeming to be at odds with the mission/values by those who publicly tout those values (perceived or otherwise)
  • The use of mission/values messaging in justifying something that the average employee/stakeholder sees as a convenient excuse by management.

Some of these examples are simply poor communications management and others come down to organisational processes seeming to be too cumbersome for the average manager who doesn’t see the value and reasoning behind why they’re so important.

Simple fact = no matter how good you are at what you do, how much cash you throw at external marketing and branding, or how amazing you are as an employer, if you don’t get your comms on message (whatever your messages are) and follow them consistently then you are doomed.

* Note: I worked ‘reigns’ in to the article to really capitalise on the season of St. Nick 😉

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