Around this time last year I took the opportunity to reflect on why I do what I do every day. Now, a year on, I want to take a slightly different approach.
In April 2020 it will be nine years since I sat down at my desk for the first time as an independent consultant, event speaker, trainer and writer. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then but the core values behind my business, Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd, remain the same. Shortly after the company launched, I wrote a piece on my old blog site explaining those values and I want to revisit that because the principles I signed myself up to back then still hold true today.
So, here is that 2011 article. It has been edited slightly to tidy it up – I think I have become a better writer in the last nine years and can’t help but make some changes! (NB. a link to the original version is at the end of this article).
Organisational values. Rarely have I encountered a topic in my career that has provoked so much scepticism. From those who are totally against corporate values to those who just think its is all hot air and no action, it’s unusual to come across anyone who thrills to the idea of discussing values.
A former boss of mine talked about people, not companies, having values. People, he argued, are all individuals and have differing values. Companies cannot force their values onto people, so there is always going to be some tension between people living their personal values and abiding by corporate values. The conclusion, therefore, was that talk of corporate values is pointless.
On the other hand, one charity I know restructured and, rather than deciding which skills and competencies they wanted and redeploying and recruiting staff accordingly, they decided to focus on values. The recruitment process was focused on exploring individual employees’ congruence with the charity’s values. Those with the strongest fit stayed. Those with the weakest fit were first in line for redundancy. They firmly believe this has given them a more committed staff base to build on for the future.
One of the nice things about being your own boss is that your corporate values are your personal values. There should be no conflict between the way the firm goes about its business and the way the owner behaves. That’s why I want to use this article to explain the six values of Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd, or as I put it on the website, what I believe about the way I go about the work of engaging and inspiring people to bring about change.
1 – Honesty
This is a non-negotiable for me. It is an absolutely fundamental value. That’s why it is first in the list.
I will always be honest in my dealing with clients and potential clients.
I will not sell you a service if I don’t think you need it.
I will not commit to doing a piece of work if I don’t think I can do it (either because of availability or fit with my skills).
I will be honest and upfront about how I can help and what it will cost you.
I will also be honest in what I say and write about the volunteering movement. In my view there aren’t enough people speaking up and speaking out about volunteering issues. I want to help fill that void with honest views, opinions and advice. That’s what I hope this blog will increasingly be used for.
This is a critical time for the volunteering movement in the UK and I hope in some small way that I can honestly and helpfully speak and write about the issues we face.
2 – Passion
It say’s on the company website:
“At Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd we are passionate about the potential of people, about their potential to effect change and make the world a better place.”
In fact passion is a word that I keep hearing when people talk about how I go about my work. I am happy about that because, for me, being in the volunteering movement isn’t just a job, it is a vocation.
I am passionate about volunteering, about what I do, about how I do it and about the difference it makes. I want to bring that passion, that enthusiasm to my work with clients. I want others to share that passion and enthusiasm. I want volunteers to feel even more passionate and enthusiastic about their work and the difference it makes. I want paid staff to feel even more passionate about what they do and the challenges & opportunities they face.
It is this passion about the potential of people that is at the core of my vision for the business to engage and inspire people to bring about change.
3 – Fun
According to a survey I once read, the average person spends 99,117hrs at work during their life. That’s about eleven years! I don’t know about you but I don’t want those eleven years to be devoid of any enjoyment.
That’s why I want to bring a sense of fun to my work. Yes, what my clients and I do is serious and we take it seriously. But let’s also get serious about having fun.
In early years education children learn through play, through having fun. Who says this has to stop when you’re a child? In my experience people learn more if they are having fun learning. I know I do.
So I want to enjoy my work and have fun doing it and I want that to be your experience of working with me too.
4 – Integrity
There is a great book on leadership called ‘The Leadership Challenge’, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. In it they argue that a critical ingredient to effective leadership is integrity – living out your values.
That’s why I wanted to blog about them here, so I can be open about them and let people judge for themselves if I live them in my work.
Kouzes and Posner sum integrity up in a chapter on leaders modelling the way as DWYSYWD – Do What You Say You Will Do.
That’s my goal – please tell me if I get it right (or wrong!).
5 – Value
In the past I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in shaping the content for conferences. One of the things that delegates had always fed back about previous events was the price – it was, in their view too, high.
From the view of the organisation I was working with, the price was the minimum they could offer as it allowed them to break even, just. So we took a different approach. We increased the price just enough to cover inflationary rises to our costs but re-focused the content so that is gave really good value to the delegates. After the next event we got very few comments about the price, but lots about how valuable the conference had been.
Value refers to the perception of benefits received for what someone must give up, in this case the price. Where the organisation in question had gone wrong in the past was in focusing solely on the price (keeping it as low as possible without making a loss because they thought this is what got people to book places) rather than on the value of what people were paying for.
That is an important point I am taking into my new business.
I have to charge a fee for what I do. This is my livelihood now. This is how I pay my mortgage and feed my family. That’s why there is a price for what I do.
But if you hire me I hope you don’t feel like you get a service that simply costs money (price). Instead, I hope you feel like you get a service of real value, a service that is built on many years of experience and that is dedicated to bringing you benefits that will help you achieve your goals.
6 – Effectiveness
Someone wisely said that efficiency is doing this well but effectiveness is doing the right things well.
There isn’t much to add really, it speaks for itself and that’s how I want to help my clients – focus on doing the right things well.
I’d love to hear from you in response.
Have you worked with Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd over the last nine years? Do you think we lived out our values? How? And if not, why not?
What values are important to you in your work? Why?
Please leave a comment below so we can explore this topic further together.