I was asked to help a UK-based charity to communicate its new strategy. They needed to evolve and rethink the way they worked to remain relevant in a fast-changing world. In addition, they wanted to ensure that any communication reflected their values.
I worked with the internal communication team three days a week for six months initially on this values project although the scope broadened over time.
On arriving, I quickly learnt that the current values had been chosen by a previous CEO and didn’t necessarily reflect the organisation as it was now. Although employees had been consulted, they didn’t recognise their contributions in the final set of values so didn’t feel ownership of them. I felt there was an opportunity to review the values properly as part of the strategic review, rather than continue to reinforce the (potentially) wrong ones.
I recommended that we bring in values expert, Jacke Le Fevre, to help them understand what their values were before we began the work to embed them.
I supported my client in making the business case to the HR Director for why they needed to review the values. I created a narrative that we later used for the wider business about what values are, why they matter and how we could understand what they are.
We suggested that we conduct storytelling analysis (run by Jackie) which would involve employees sharing their stories of times when the charity when it was at its best. These stories were then analysed using a linguistic algorithm that identified trends and suggested relevant values.
Once this approach was approved, I then created internal communications for various audiences, explaining what we meant by values and why it was important that they took part. We received a strong uptake and the values suggested by the linguistic tool were agreed by a group of employees that represented all levels and parts of the organisation.
I then worked on the wording of the values to ensure they were articulated in plain English and could be easily applied by all departments as well as externally.
From there we created a plan to embed the values as part of the wider strategy communications. The embedding phase needed to continue to involve people to help them understand what the values looked like in practice in their role and department, and for them to feel ownership of them.
This involved empowering line managers to facilitate discussions with their teams through providing them with training and resources, sharing stories of the values in action to inspire others, demonstrating leadership living the values and delivering an internal creative campaign.
It is still early days and the values are gradually being embedded. Initial feedback was that the right values had been chosen and that people could understand how they would apply them in their day-to-day roles.
My client said: “Helen helped us enormously – she brought experience, skills and knowledge and applied it to our organisation in a practical and useful way. She was very flexible with changing priorities and challenged us in the right way to make sure we were following good practice. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Helen to anyone who needs an experienced internal comms consultant that can apply years of knowledge to each situation individually.”
“Helen helped us enormously – she brought experience, skills and knowledge and applied it to our organisation in a practical and useful way. She was very flexible with changing priorities and challenged us in the right way to make sure we were following good practice. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Helen to anyone who needs an experienced internal comms consultant that can apply years of knowledge to each situation individually.”