In high winds, trees are less likely to break when they can bend. Flexibility is the key to a thriving forest, and in a shifting public service landscape, it is critical for organizations as well.
Workforce flexibility in particular can provide a number of benefits. For example, a recent article reports that there is a strong correlation between workplace flexibility and improvements in productivity, profits, teamwork, and organization reputation, which in turn brings value, as it can help you to attract and retain high-caliber talent. Researchers even found a 77% improvement in employee morale as a result of greater workplace flexibility.
In the rapidly changing current public service and business climate, we find ourselves adapting to constant changes in government decisions, client needs, and internal decision making. Determining how to move forward when your team is affected by daily changes in availability, health, and childcare needs can be confusing, and even overwhelming.
So how can you provide flexibility and position your program or organization for success, without losing sight of the outcomes you need for the citizens you serve?
For some organizations, a mission statement serves as a guiding concept in daily activities, but there can sometimes be a disconnect between this statement – which describes what you do – and how to translate this goal into daily progress and success.
The key to bridging this gap is not to put the mission statement aside. Instead, it is to use it as a starting point for developing a clear set of core values for your organization.
Core values are a strong factor in focusing your decision making and daily operations because they answer how you meet the challenges of living out your mission statement.
Your Values Tell A Story
A fundamental piece of writing advice for an author tackling a memoir or autobiography project is just to write one story about their life, and then another, and then another. When the stories have accrued, the author can then look at them as a whole, and see what patterns emerge. What are the guiding principles that have consciously or unconsciously shaped their life path? What are the key events that have made them who they are? What specific challenges has the writer encountered?
Core values serve as that pattern for organizations and are a way of expressing the story of the organization, both in the history of your success and your vision for the future. Four specific techniques can help you discover what your team’s core values are: Gathering, Grouping, Defining, and Celebrating.
- Gathering. In this phase, a group of organization members, whether drawn from the workforce, focus groups, work session participants, leadership, or a blend of several of these, gather a list of words and concepts that define the way you live out your mission. A virtual whiteboard can be used to gather these keywords, or simply a shared document that all participants can access and edit.
- Grouping. When the ideas have all been gathered, consider what patterns emerge. Are there particular concepts that are strongly represented in the collection of words? For example, is efficient service a strong goal with your team? Perhaps you have a focus on quality and compliance, so that your critical work is not delayed by audit findings and remediation. Your organization might have particular benchmarks centered around important program functions or projects. As underlying concepts emerge, your program’s core values can begin to come into focus.
- Defining. In any organization, there are defining moments that differentiate you as a team and help reinforce a group focus and identity. What have these defining moments been for your organization? When have you lived out a commitment to the main areas you identified in the Grouping phase? What watershed events, challenges, and successes have defined who you really are? Take some time to reflect on these events, and what they have meant to the development of what really matters in your work. What do you prize above all, as an organization? How does this keep you connected to your mission?
- Celebrating. As your core values begin to take shape, focus on your successes and how they connect with your vision. What can you do more of to maximize your strengths? What challenges can you lean into to develop strengths in target areas? How can you transform your list of Core Values into a living document that your team puts into action every day?
In short, your core values should represent the best of who you are, and what you see for your future service as well.
As you flex – bending, but not breaking – with uncertain times, your core values keep you headed in the right direction and pull you together as a team. With the structure of your established core values, you lay the foundation for trust and responsibility of your staff when working independently, enabling the flexibility that is critical to successful remote work.
ISF’s Core Values
ISF’s five core values keep us connected to what matters most. By maintaining a focus on Client Partnership, Growth, Stability, Results, and Responsibility, ISF stands apart among providers of IT consulting, management consulting, Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V), and hosting services. All of these core values keep us focused on what matters most: You.
Over the next several posts, we will be exploring how each core value guides us as a company as we adapt to current challenges through remote work and other adjustments. In times of challenge and uncertainty, ISF is committed to maintaining flexibility while living out our core values, consistently delivering what our clients need. This positively impacts our client service each and every day.
Through strategy, process, and technology, we stand behind our clients and communities to support them in living out their missions and overcoming new challenges.
Is it time to examine existing processes, systems, and performance to better define who you are, what you do, and how you can better serve your constituents? Let us know how we can help.
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