By terrymckenzie on Oct 08, 2007
So I suppose this is a bad thing for Sun's head of employee communications to admit, but...
I hate company values communication campaigns. Too often, the campaigns feel contrived, celebrated with great chest beating, shouting how fabulous we are. The content can be trite - I mean really, does any company have values that don't celebrate truth and justice? (see Divas, Liars and Thieves if you want to hear me continue the rant.) Ugly t-shirts, refrigerator magnets and paperweights engraved with "Our Company Values" complete the travesty. Yuck.
And yet, I'm here to talk about Sun's values. Without balloons. Without Lucite pyramids. Without smugness. Because I believe we're doing this in the right way - articulating values that reflect who we are and who we want to be, and then tying the whole thing to performance management.
When Jonathan did his direct report reviews in August and September, he framed the conversations around the values that are near and dear to the core of this company. And when he and his top management team reviewed high potentials and talked about succession planning, the dialogue centered as much on people's character, as exemplified in the values, as in their accomplishments.
That's putting your money where your mouth is. And it exemplified integrity, which happens to be one of our five values:
By the way, Sun's reputation for courage, integrity and innovation brought me to this company almost five years ago. At that time, collaboration was in scant evidence and pace a joke. Since then, in my opinion, we've come a long way on collaboration, breaking down silos, truly putting all the wood behind one arrow. Pace? Well, we're not going to win any land speed records just yet but there's recognition that we must do better in that area. And as we all know, what is measured is what is done. So putting the spotlight on pace can only help us.
Rather than bringing in the elephants and dancing girls to celebrate our values, let's do something a tad more meaningful. Let's talk about them. Talk to your co-workers, talk to your employees, talk to your managers about them. We're all going to assessed on how we lived them this year - they are that important. Let a thousand conversations begin, and let those spur another thousand, and another thousand, and then perhaps another thousand. Let's get clear on what these values mean to us as an organization, what they mean in our workgroups, and as leaders and employees in the company. In the end, how we hold ourselves and others accountable for living these values is what will make a difference.
For more on our values, you can listen to Bill MacGowan, our chief human resources officer, talk about them here.