Values and the power of ONE

If ever ‘values’ needed to be at the forefront of how we do business, it is NOW.

I’ve recently presented to two audiences where I used Facebook and Boeing as prime examples of how NOT to do things if you care about your reputation.  Facebook notoriously ignored the fact that the Christchurch mosque shooter was livestreaming a massacre; Boeing turned a blind eye after 157 people lost their lives in the Ethiopian air crash and they still had their eyes closed when another 189  people died in the Lion air crash. Both planes went down for the exact same fault in the exact same model of plane and it would appear that Boeing knew about the problem all along.

But really they are just two. Every day you will see something in the newspaper, on the TV news or on social media of badly how wrong leaders can get things. I did once Google ‘does power make people go stupid’ and discovered that yes, it actually does.

My belief after a crisis of any kind is that if you trace what happened back to its source you will find that someone tried to save a few dollars or someone tried to make a fast buck.

For example, to reduce headcount in supermarkets (to save a few dollars) self checkouts were installed. According to a recent article, self service costs Australia A$9.3b dollars per annum because of the innovative ways customers found to NOT pay for things. Perhaps people will be brought back to save the money the self-checkouts didn’t save?

Given yet another two mass shootings in 2 days in America, I’m going to use Walmart as my example of the power of one to change the world (or not).  In my early days as a personnel manager I actually used Walmart at a shining example of teaching great values to large amounts of people. Their values (at that stage) were:

Rule number 1 – the customer is always right

Rule number 2 – if the customer is wrong – re-read rule number 1           

So simple. That meant that no matter how big the organisation grew, everyone from the senior managers to the check-out operators knew what decision to make when faced with a challenge. I have no idea whether these are still their values.

In El Paso, we’ve just witnessed another mass shooting. This time IN a Walmart store. Every now and again, there is a ‘moment’ when courageous decisions can be made. Australia made a courageous decision immediately after the Port Arthur shooting in 1996. Both political parties joined forces and agreed to ban assault rifles. Jacinda Ardern made the same courageous decision after the mosque shooting in Christchurch earlier this year.

WILL WALMART BE COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO SAY – WE WILL NO LONGER SELL GUNS FROM OUR STORES? They could – it surely isn’t a poor organisation. They’ve just received billions in the recent Trump tax cuts. But will they? For sure, someone in America needs to say ‘enough’. Will it be Walmart?

On the subject of values, I wrote just yesterday about 3 amazing people who spoke to me after my two presentations. One a person who was really proud of his company’s values; one who was on the verge of a break-down because of HIS company’s values and the 3rd story from a leader who took my message seriously and planned to ask his staff to evaluate their company values. And he did. He called me a few days later to let me know that he was stunned at how poorly his company lived their values. He had done what most businesses do, he had decided what the values of his company would be and then stuck them on a plaque in reception. NOW his company values had come alive. NOW they would live them and breathe them. NOW they would enhance his business.

So if you are a manager or team leader reading this, and you are about to make a decision that will save money, or make you some extra dollars, please think about the COST of the decision you are about to make. Please see if this decision fits with your values.  Cos if it goes wrong, or if you do it for all the wrong reasons, for sure you will be found out. Just as Facebook and Boeing have been found out and just as Walmart will be found out.  

Every day, check those values. Encourage YOUR people to evaluate them. Make it OK for them to be honest with you. Your values will never let you down and you will never regret living by them. Promise.

‘Real integrity is doing the right thing even knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did or not’.  –Oprah

Ann Andrews CSP
Speaker, author, profiler, Life Member NSANZ

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