I started supporting people with a learning disability 25 years ago. This is my second career. My daughter, Bettina, was 9 years old at the time. Bettina copes with a learning disability, autism, and epilepsy. I knew what my values were (and they haven’t changed) but did I know what the values were of the organisation I was going to work for and if they had them, did they demonstrate them towards the people they support?
Several years ago, driving to the office on the M11, I was tuned into BBC Radio 5. A listener was telling the presenter about the importance of British Values. The presenter responds by saying what are they? “urmm, mmmm, a pause” and after not getting a coherent response from the listener, the presenter eventually cuts to the next person. I make a mental note not to make statements unless I can back them up and give examples. I also think, could I name our company values and best of all could I provide evidence we live them?
I have recently been invited by a couple of my colleagues to deliver a presentation to our team on ‘Values’. Now is a good time to reflect before I put my talk together.
Definition for ‘Values’
A set of principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.
A set of moral principles that help you to decide what is right and wrong, and how to act in various situations
A philosophy that is meaningful to the company
Related: Giving Voices to Values – Leadership in the Raw by Meike Beckford
How they have worked in our company
Dosh (Financial Advocacy) Ltd is a company supporting adults with a learning disability to have more control and independence with their money. Dosh is a Not-for-Profit Company and I have had the honour of being Dosh’s Managing Director since 2009. There are currently over 40 members of staff supporting 1200 people across England, Scotland, and Wales.
Our Values are a statement of intention and commitment to achieve a high level of performance for the people we support.
Our values are an internal reference and are designed to maintain a consistent approach in our work and support to people, no matter how much we grow as a company.
We have a ‘code’ which we share with each other, which includes:
- We care about the well-being and success of every person we work with and support.
- High standards are a way of life. We pursue excellence in everything we do.
- We make a difference in every community we serve.
- We respect and listen to our people.
- We empower our people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit the people we support and our company.
Our Values are aimed towards each other and the people we support. We do not differentiate.
- Values influence people’s behaviour and serve as criteria for evaluating the actions of others.
- They have a great role to play in the conduct of life.
- They help in creating norms to guide day-to-day behaviour.
- The values of a culture may change, but most remain stable during one person’s lifetime. The Dosh Values have been constant for the last 12 years.
- Defining your values and then living by them can help you and your colleagues feel more fulfilled.
How we deliver them:
- We consult with the people we support and set standards that they feel are important. Here is our Dosh Promise.
- They drive our behaviour and our interactions with the people we support and each other.
- We regularly talk about our Values with each other, either on a one-to-one basis or as part of team.
- We challenge each other – are we adhering to our values? (they are an internal reference about what is good).
- A set of qualitive goals we strive to achieve each year (which is included in our business plan and regularly assessed).
- We do what is right over what is easy. Here are our 8 pillars of Trust.
Personal Values are different for each person. These can be defined as ideas or beliefs that a person holds.
As I started my new work 25 years ago, I had the opportunity to set up a new team from scratch which would support people to be part of their local community who had previously not left the Victorian institution where they lived.
On my first day I had decided that my benchmark would be ‘Bettina’ when it came to setting out our values. What would I want for Bettina? And would I be happy with the people I recruited supporting Bettina? I have not moved from this position over the last quarter of a century.