I received a surprise call from a team member one day that sent me into a tailspin. She is a contractor and she logged in to start her day and all of her work was gone. She asked, "Have I been fired and I don't know it?"
I knew nothing about it! I was utterly confused and quickly losing my cool. Upon investigation it became apparent that one team member had gone in and transferred the work to herself and no one had bothered to tell our contractor.
She had to call several people and didn't get a call back for several hours and was eventually told that her services were no longer required.
This team member hadn't done anything wrong and was not given any warning or notice of the change. There had been longer-term conversations about a change in strategy, but suddenly two team members decided to make the move and forgot to communicate it to the contractor or to anyone else on the team.
Before I tell you how we constructively handled this situation, I have to admit that upon learning of this disrespectful treatment, I was enraged. This went against everything that we stand for and I will admit that my initial response involved a lot of yelling. #NotMyBestMoment!
Once I calmed down, I talked to all the key players and got the full story. No one was intentionally disrespectful, they were negligently disrespectful. One quick conversation led to a team member taking initiative and no one was looking strategically at the situation. They were just driving forward for the sake of efficiency and the casualty was the respect and trust of a team member.
I decided that rather than looking at this as an HR matter to handle and move on from, that it was an opportunity for our entire team to revisit and even redefine out values. We sat together in the conference room with a whiteboard and hashed our list of values and why they mattered.
Our values are Purpose, Clarity, Empowerment, Partnership, Integrity and Community.
In our team discussion, we realized that we violated several values in the way we treated our team member. Rather than building and executing a transition strategy, they had lacked Clarity in their haphazard actions. The over Empowerment of one person lead to a breakdown in Partnership within the team. Part of our definition of Integrity is communication and transparency. By taking unilateral action, the two team members had violated our sense of Integrity. And overall, we did not treat our team member with the respect due to all of our Community members.
Though the whole experience was stressful and challenging, it allowed us to grow as team. We were able to recommit to the values that are most important to us and talk about how those values play out in our decision making process. As a team, we came up with a plan to communicate with the injured team member and create a transition plan that ultimately served her better.
I know for certain that every team member now feels safer in knowing that if they are ever mistreated that we will address it with courage, transparency and fairness. And that we all know the standards by which our actions will be judged.
I share this story with you, not to highlight our dysfunction (we really are a very happy team), but to show you the importance of values in your decision making process as a leader.
I think many good people end up embroiled in bad situations because they didn't have any guide posts to follow. They are focused on doing on their job and then they trip over something that throws them off course. Rather than stopping to investigate, they do everything possible to get back on track to the status quo.
It is so much easier to ignore a problem, hide a problem, work around a problem than to look it in the eye and endeavor to resolve a problem.
If you are familiar with my Discovery EXPERIENCE process, you know that I believe that helping clients clarify their values will allow them to make better decisions and build a financial plan that will help them live more meaningful lives.
The same is true in business. When your values are clear, it is so much easier to make the right decision in a challenging situation. You can also measure the decisions you have made against your values in hindsight and determine whether you have truly lived up to them or not.
I want to encourage you to work with your team to define your organizational values. If you already have them written down, go back and revisit them. Determine if they are still accurate and talk about whether you are living up to them as a team.
Don’t wait for things to go wrong before you try to figure out what is most important to you. By then, it's too late!
Not sure how to go about establishing your business values? Join us for this month's IMPLEMENTATION Monthly Mastermind call where I will be sharing my process with the group.
IMM members will receive my printable Business Values Cards along with the full process to work with your team to choose and define your organizational values.
If you aren't already and IMM member, you can join and get your first month free. If you love it, stick around. If you don't, cancel within 30 days and never be charged a penny!
I hope to see you on our live IMM call on the 31st of July where I will help you choose and define your business values!
IMPLEMENTATION Monthly Mastermind