Monday, December 31, 2007

Shipra Seefeldt column: Resolve next year to live your core values

Post Crescent Dec. 30, 2007

As we say goodbye to one year and look ahead to the next, it is natural to reflect back on what happened within the past year in different areas of our lives, including our businesses. It also is a natural thing to think to the upcoming year and make plans and set goals for our work and personal lives.

In looking ahead to 2008, I would encourage all businesses to revisit what their core values stand for, and to try to make a commitment to really "live" them throughout the coming year. The following are some organizational values that I see clients focusing on in their businesses, and the ones I believe would be important for all businesses to encourage in terms of the behaviors of their employees: integrity, trust, communication, teamwork, and leadership.

Integrity: What does it mean to "live" the value of integrity at the workplace? Webster's dictionary describes integrity as an "adherence to a code of moral values." Businesses need to define what is important to them regarding their code of moral values and to then give messages throughout the organization about their expectations of employee behaviors.

Trust: Trust is the foundation of any human relationship, and it is no different for organizations. It is very important for businesses to give the message that employees need to make the development of trust a priority, not only in customer relationships but also within work teams.

Communication: The value of good communication can't be overemphasized because it is an essential tool which can ensure success both internally and externally. It is important for businesses to create cultures that reinforce open communication at all levels so that there are efficiencies in goal setting, decision making, problem solving and resolving conflicts.

Teamwork: What is the message regarding teamwork that your organization gives to employees? Once again, this is an area that is critical to organizational success in that it can establish criteria for team functioning and team performance whether it is on management teams, departmental teams or project teams.

Leadership: It is very critical for the formal leadership within businesses to articulate a clear and a unified vision of the future. It is equally important for leaders to model the behaviors that they want to encourage within their culture and to provide both encouragement and accountability regarding the company's vision and values. Finally, leaders need to provide consistency in their messages and behaviors and at the same time encourage creativity and innovation throughout the organization.

As you look to 2008, make a commitment to revisit your values, pay attention to the messages as you continue to develop your organizational culture, and provide your employees with the training, which can give them the tools to be successful to truly "live" your core values.

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Shipra Seefeldt is president of Strategic Solutions Consulting, an Appleton-based management consulting firm. She can be reached at 920-730-2705 or sseefeldt@new.rr.com. [Shipra also recently completed a term on our Library Foundation Board -- TD]

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