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Be like Stormzy: What's the point of company values anyway?

November 20th 2020 | By Charlie Kneen

When I was first exposed to company values, I learned to be cynical about the concept. It became a regular source of mirth at the lunch table as my colleagues and I contrasted people’s behaviour to the five values stuck on office walls and touted aggressively by Head Office.

When Solvd Together was born in November 2019, I’d assumed that we wouldn’t bother with official values. Once the business began to grow however, we started to talk about our hopes and dreams for this new entity, what it would come to represent for us, for our colleagues and the world.

We want to work with people who have values

You know, any values. Everyone I’ve spoken to in a recruitment context has values I’d agree with, and the idea of trying to enforce my version of values onto people feels draconian and futile. Upon reflection however, this is probably the way that most hierarchical organisations think about values: to mould the workforce to fit a certain template.

Company values done badly can re-enforce groupthink, crush innovation and reward the wrong behaviours. I think this was true in my first L&D role and it’s a mistake I’m not keen to repeat.

For Solvd founders, Morten Bonde and I, values are not just a nice marketing ploy, they have practical application. I recently had the opportunity to use one of Solvd’s values, ‘Be Like Stormzy’ to make a decision. I was in a bit of a jam with lots of work to do and potentially had a proposal to write. Morten was on holiday and I started thinking whether I should get in touch to discuss the opportunity and gather businessy data needed for the submission.

I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t know whether we should submit a proposal and to do it I would have had to involve Mr Bonde who was taking a well-earned break. That was when my spirit guide Stormzy stepped in.

What would Stormzy do?

Stormzy is philanthropic, generally very cool, and an artist and challenges the status quo. Stormzy told me that I shouldn’t do the proposal, it was the wrong thing to do. “Rest and relaxation is essential”, said he.

 

Furthermore, he told me that overextending oneself is a one-way ticket to stress and to disappointing colleagues and clients. So, the proposal went away, and a weight was lifted off my shoulders. The door is very much still open, but I didn’t have to disrupt Morten’s peace or work late into the night to deliver something I wasn’t convinced would benefit the business.

Be like Stormzy: We take responsibility for ourselves, our clients, and our local communities. We are committed, outspoken, and put action before words to make a real positive difference in the world.

Having a practical value and using it in this way was an epiphany for me. What’s more, using a real or imaginary role-model to guide you, feels like a much more effective way of articulating how to behave and what to do. ‘Be like Stormzy’ can be interpreted by everyone with different personal values but also provides a tangible guiding light through which we can make choices.

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