From the minds of INVOLVE’s greatest thinkers & doers, comes a classic tale of corporate conference gone wrong; a collection of tragically typical conference fails that should be amusingly familiar to anyone who has attended a traditional conference.
As an internal communications practitioner you may often find yourself longing for others to understand the trials and tribulations you face when organising internal events. You may also find yourself craving the simplicity of childhood; a time when everything really was as simple as your CEO thinks the new vision is.
Remember the good old days when there was no PowerPoint to lull you into a deep dull sleep or 86 page corporate manifestos to relay and align your 500 closest friends with?
Inspired by the wildly popular Ladybird books for adults, comes The Mockingbird ‘How Not To’ books; a satirical series written in a reassuringly simplistic tone, with easily digestible imagery to translate complex business subjects into child’s play.
‘The Conference’ serves as a hilariously realistic reminder that if your employees snooze – you lose! Pick up your copy here to get ahead of the curve and find out how not to run a conference!
Hi, my name is Neil and I am a fairly new addition to the INVOLVE team.
When I arrived last April, I found myself somewhat unsettled by the sea of casually dressed people who surrounded me – they were open, outspoken and opinionated. A far cry from my previous colleagues with whom I had spent my career working quietly, side by side, on our own separate islands. Having come from a background that entailed a certain level of corporate formality, I felt instantly out of my depth and wondered if I would be able to thrive or even settle in an environment this fast-paced and dynamic in nature.
After being thrown quite literally into the deep-end with my colleagues at the rowing teambuilding day soon after I joined, I was taken aback at how prominently the company values were communicated. Through these INVOLVE professed to be:
Passionate about effectiveness, Pioneering, Making work fun, Working as a team & Radiating positive energy
Employees were asked “What does INVOLVE look like when it’s at its best?”, and called on to give genuine feedback on whether the values (conceived of 20 years before) still rang true for the business today. The vote said yes, we were indeed still guided by the same principles created at the business’ inception in 1996 – but was this just lip service? In my previous experiences the so-called company values belonged to upper management; receiving notable mention at many a board meeting and trickling down the ladder into their ultimate destinations of a few haphazardly placed posters and a particularly “inspirational” page on our corporate website.
I realised that only time would tell whether INVOLVE was for real.
Slowly but surely I began to navigate the strangely buoyant waters of INVOLVE, led by a boss who I not only felt comfortable having idle chit chat with, but whose positive energy encouraged me into the groove of my role on the sales team. I was however, still taken by surprise when I was invited to a brainstorm for one of our projects. I’m on the sales team…what could they realistically expect me to contribute to this creative process? I did notice that I wasn’t the only unexpected guest in this brainstorm, colleagues from every job description – other project teams to the finance guys – were all there and happy to get stuck in. This was one of those moments when the presence and effectiveness of INVOLVE’s values really dawned on me. Having experienced working for companies whose values did little more than exist, I know an empty statement when I see one and I recall the growing sense of cynicism I experienced as I watched leaders work against the very grain they had preached to me. So today, I am well aware that when a company lacks credibility to the people on the inside, there will never really be ‘one team‘ working towards one goal; instead it will always be ‘us‘ vs. ‘them‘.
Ultimately, as I come into contact with more of our current clients, I see the results of an aligned and engaged workforce. It’s a simple as…
Happy Employees = Happy Clients. The ROI is crystal clear.
A few months in to my time at INVOLVE I noticed that people were not only living the company values, they were being recognised for them too. Every quarter our company day would feature a values ceremony in which champions for each value were elected and trophies were passed down to the latest and greatest. Every recognition of an employee is an opportunity to showcase the values and connect them to our real actions; reinforcing both the awareness and importance around the way we live them. Recently we have also implemented a monthly values recognition session of sorts, which takes place at the Monday morning meeting. This session gives the current values champions the opportunity and platform to distinguish another person who has also been brilliantly demonstrating their value.
For me, the best part of this is not only the fact that such visible values make achieving them into realistic goals, but also, that I am able to watch and learn from those identified as exceptional in specific ways.
In my 11 months here I have learnt that living the values is only achievable if you recruit and subsequently assess by this criteria. Values should act as a definitive guide for everything a company does, from growth to developing people. After all, you can teach a new hire how to do their job, but it is much harder to install new core values. At INVOLVE, 50% of the recruitment process is identifying people who are on values to begin with.
So as it turns out, they knew all along that I would fit right in.
All in all I have a few definite takeaways from this experience so far:
If the values only exist to upper management – they don’t really exist
Celebrate values specifically and often
Drive everyone’s behaviour and actions with values
Living the values is the best example to promote this behaviour in your employees