Identifying our values and making them work


You will remember my talking about formalising a new set of values in the organisation as part of our Workforce Strategy. I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself, but I thought that it would be useful if I were to bring you up to date with our progress.

We had an excellent discussion with our Cabinet a couple of weeks ago on the subject. They were fully supportive of the 5 values that we have identified so far – ambition, courage, honesty, empowerment and compassion.  Very helpfully, Councillor Philip White challenged me and members of SLT on how these values would follow through to our desired outcomes. In his professional life, he sees an enormous number of values in companies with whom he does business, and he noted that the really successful ones were those where they represented the organisation for what they really are, and what they aspire to be, rather than a list of well-meaning words. That really struck a chord with me.

As I have said on several occasions, it’s less about changing Staffordshire County Council, and more about our being consistently at our best. The values above are plainly evident during the overwhelming proportion of time for the vast majority of us. But when things go wrong, as they do in every organisation that operates in the real world, their absence in part is apparent; formalising them gives us a map to navigate our way to the consistency that we seek. Following the discussion at Cabinet there will be a programme of work with all staff to discuss and agree our final set of values

My last observation on values at this point is from my previous military service.  If we accept that the only sure way to avoid things going wrong is to do nothing, and that is not an option, then I would contend that it is how we deal with those unintended events that is the measure of a leader rather than their happening in the first place. Being open and honest, and focusing on the recovery is always the best policy. I will be returning to this theme in the coming weeks as we develop the Workforce Strategy. Your part in this is pivotal.

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