Problem: Organizations can often be too vague and wishy washy regarding expectations of employee behavior. I think most organizations want to state values positively, and I support that general direction. However, sometimes we just have to be more direct. I believe the “DO NOT DO THIS” approach is more straightforward and impactful to help each of us comprehend the seriousness underlying an expectation.
Story: I recently attended Unreasonable Future, a phenomenal conference including emerging entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts. It is organized by the Unreasonable Group and participants are asked to read and sign a “Community Manifesto,” which includes nine value statements. The Unreasonable Group deeply believes that having every member follow these values, is foundational for successful gatherings. Most of the manifesto is expressed as “do’s.” However a couple, including the following, are “do not’s.” My favorite is value V.
“V. Don’t be an Ass: Our programs are centered around a belief that diverse perspectives and experiences lead to breakthroughs. Though you may not always agree with others, we ask that you seek understanding, and acceptance over judgment. When you disagree, get curious. Don’t be mean. Be kind.”
What We Can Do About It:
- ALL of us can embrace and commit to: “Don’t be an ASS!” Let’s just do it.
- I think every organization should be explicit, and include Unreasonable’s “don’t be an ASS” statement. (I’m sure they would be flattered). This also involves giving people immediate feedback and peer coaching when we behave like asses, (and we all occasionally act jerky even if we don’t recognize when we do it).
- We all can do this, can’t we? “Don’t be mean. Be Curious. Be Kind.” How hard is that? Harder than we think if we don’t declare, and then call it out.
Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.
One Millennial View: I think this is ultimately great. However, I think we should also have the trust and accountability to assume most people are not intentionally attempting to be asses very often. Part of not being an ass is also not jumping to conclusions, and immediately blaming or shaming others for their behaviors. I’d say, “Don’t be mean. Be Curious. Be Kind. And be a little tough skinned too.”
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis