Over the years I have gotten I real kick out of corporate wall art. You know….the motivational "stuff" that somehow is woven into mission, vision, values, principles, etc…… The ones that almost always have the word Integrity and Teamwork somewhere in the frame.
I have been doing this people leadership stuff for a LONG time and I have to admit I am sick of the heresy. I'm actually old enough to remember when there was a time that such things were honorable. I remember reading about and frankly living within an era at Johnson and Johnson where General Johnson himself walked the very halls of my office only a few years before me. The stories were still fresh and so was the Credo. OMG I even had TWO books on the story of the company and actually enjoyed the read and proudly displayed them along with the Credo in my office! Then something happened…..dot.com, millenials, entitlement, Enron….. I don’t know but after leaving J&J I then had the joy of experiencing the "Since it is Written it MUST be So" cultures……not! I will admit that the wall art was way cooler and fancier than the Credo…. Credo was DEEP but look was lame. Maybe it was my clients and/or career choices?…..maybe it was me?…..but somehow despite the great words and fantastic wall art, corporate America could not understand that just because it is written doesn’t mean that...
A.) people know what the heck it means
B.) leaders understand their critical role in showing people how to follow and
C. The reward and/or reprimand system (especially the unwritten one) needs to align to it.
I am sure you are reflecting on your own experience right now and under your breadth saying…..”Preach it brother!”. It is a sad sign of the times folks. It just is! Somehow we have become a society that is ok with the facade. We feel secure and maybe even accomplished because we state the word Integrity as a core value. What is that all about? So if it isn’t written down and explicitly stated as a value, core competency, principle, etc…..does that mean it is ok to hire and/or condone the lack of integrity? Does it mean that every company that doesn’t have the word Integrity in their wall art that they are loaded with heathens? They value depravity? Could you imagine that behavioral interview. Tell me about a time you stole from your mother? Well let me tell you about a time a Major Corporation was so set on symbolizing the importance of Integrity in their organization that they chiseled the word into a GIANT block of hard cut granite. As a matter of fact they were so set on this “symbolism” …..and the message that the “symbol” should broadcast that they had smaller blocks of granite just like the WHQ one in their remote office entrances as well. HUGE block at corporate office and though not as impressive but just as serious, blocks throughout the US. I don’t know about you but chiseling something into granite means serious stuff for me. Like DEATH! Well maybe death is what was on their minds because frankly they were critically ill and dying and despite the symbolism of Integrity that their amazing motivational "art" and company values communicated, they were darn corrupt. This little company will be remembered as one of the MOST corrupt companies of all time. Anyone remember Enron? Yep Enron went out of their way to symbolize Integrity but clearly symbols don’t mean squat! I wonder if Jesus had some cool values, principles wall art in the upper room. The values of a disciple……Judas must not have read the wall art!
What’s the deal everyone? How did we get here? How have we become so hypocritical and somehow be comfortable with words yet not cultivate ACTION? When did effort outweigh outcomes? When did words not have to match behavior? I love this one “well he was under a lot of pressure therefore we need to excuse his (cut throat) behavior.” Huh? BUT Teamwork is on the sign in the lobby……its on my company computer screensaver!
Folks we need stop this baloney and define the critical behaviors that actually help us be purpose driven in our work lives and provide us the goals to strive for improving our company performance and therefore improving our lives. Integrity, Teamwork, Commitment, Respect, Dignity, blah, blah, blah should not need to be written down or called out in order to be expected! Maybe we just need WWJD as a catch-all for that stuff and then follow it up with values that actually define behavior and model decision making within the unique nature of the employer….Thankfully I worked with an organization that knew how to do that and in my next blog I will tell you a little more about values that people can get behind, understand and model! No matter the wall art ONLY hire and retain people whom operate with integrity, work hard, uphold their commitments, are respectful treat others with dignity and instinctively _____________(fill in the blank with your company wall art word.)