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Support Staffordshire: Chief Executive's Comment - December 2015

Tue 15 Dec 2015

Talking Values...Don't Yawn, We Really Mean It!

Every now and then we can all feel like it’s a cynical world, and I have to admit that I am with you in being somewhat sceptical when I hear other organisations talk ‘Values’. So this month I want to try and persuade you that you should give them a second chance, BUT only because I want to hear more of us talk values that actually mean something.

It's unfortunately all too easy these days to say you are values-based or that your organisation is values-driven, and then to go on and list things like: Leadership, Accountability, Quality, Independence; Blah blah blah, as if that says it all and now you can really feel what the organisation is about. But genuine values are not about buzz words, they are about how your organisation and its people behave and act. If you splatter the words ‘Sustainable’ and ‘Local’ all over your brochure then outsource your IT to China because it’s cheaper, then values become spin and marketing and are completely undermined.

So, what does Support Staffordshire mean when for example, we state our five values to be:

  1. Community & Person Centred
  2. Local Focus
  3. Sharing and Learning
  4. Fairness & Equality
  5. Building Trust

Well, as a case in point, you can’t simply describe your values in a few sentences, they are about how you behave every day, not what your Chief Exec wrote in a strategic plan or policy document; so lesson one is that they mean lots of things, and lots of different things across the organisation; and they should!
Lesson two is that they are as much about intention as they are about action – so have to be put into practice by including them in your planning as well as in your doing. By this I mean that you have to work at them, they don’t just materialise out of thin air. If they are too easy then they probably don’t mean very much at all.
And finally, I think they are your best tool in reaching out and collaborating with others, and as such should largely be outward looking. Of course, it matters how your own staff and volunteers behave with each other, but values are about humanity and that inevitably and thankfully crosses organisational boundaries, so when considering your values I’d steer clear of navel gazing.

So, for us, Community and Person Centred means we aim to never impose external solutions on people; that solutions should come from working with people, looking at both their needs and their assets. Local Focus means we think decisions and services should be close to those they impact upon – in fact as close as they can be, because when they are not, and things go wrong (which they do from time to time) then if they are not local, they go really really wrong! Sharing and Learning means we won’t be protectionist when it comes to communities – if we can share ideas and solutions in a fair way, then we will!

Fairness and Equality for us means all people being given a fair shot at things and supporting the most marginalised to fulfil their hidden talents – we never write people off. And Building Trust means we recognise that to work together you have to have integrity, honesty, compassion and respect – we seek to build these for ourselves and with others because otherwise its blumin’ hard to work with people; we really dislike secrecy, selfishness, over-competition and spin and we challenge it when we see it.

So, what about you, if you are in the middle of refreshing your values, then make them hard hitting and if you’ve had to dust them off the shelf, then why not think about giving them a new lease of life? And as always, if you need a fresh eye or bit of support to make the most of them, call us, it’s what we are here for.

Garry Jones, Chief Executive

Tel: 01543 303030