Ambient Tribe | Company Values for Owner Managers
How company values increase productivity and performance in SME businesses
values, company, entrepreneur, business, SME, productivity, culture, performance
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The awkward conversation – how to hold your people to account when you’re an Owner/Manager

The awkward conversation – how to hold your people to account when you’re an Owner/Manager

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

When you’re an Owner/Manager, the relationship with your team can make the difference between loving and dreading work. When it’s good, you’re all in it together – an intrepid group of adventurers setting out into the unknown, making things happen, pulling in the same direction, full of passion and zest for what you’re trying to achieve. You probably know your team pretty well, you work hard and play hard, share your troubles and celebrate successes. You’re a tribe. A family. Work feels like a home from home.

So, what if a member of that family stops playing ball? What if their attitude and approach to work is just not getting things done in the way you want your organisation to do business? They’re not technically doing a bad job, they’re getting through the work, but the way they’re handling themselves is causing problems, there’s an atmosphere in the office, customer service isn’t what it should be.

When you’re close to a team member, this can be a difficult conversations to have. It can feel like a personal attack on their character, or that you as the manager ‘have changed’- you used to be friends and now you’re telling them off…

It’s part of a bigger issue. If you’ve not been clear about how you want people to act, then how can you hold them to account.

Here are three ways to deal with this sticky situation…

Put your stake in the ground using Company Values

Be clear about what you really value. What matters here, how do you want and need people to act, what’s ok, what’s not ok? By sharing clear, engaging Values that resonate, your team know what’s expected, opposed to having to guess or assume. By creating a shared language, you help your people understand how to succeed in your business, and how to hold each other to account. They’ll also have a clearer idea about whether these are values they align with and want to work with.

Be honest with yourself – your authenticity is key

If you’re going to create a shared set of values, they’ve got to be authentic. They should get to the bottom of what you genuinely believe, and how you actually work. Don’t preach that ‘team work’ is really important, and then refuse to delegate and micro manage. It just makes life confusing for everyone.

Be brave – have the conversation

Once you’ve shared your values, it’s your responsibility to hold people to account. This can be especially hard with friends and loyal employees. Use your Values and the positive impact they have on the business to brave the conversation. Start with a light touch approach. Simply giving open feedback can work wonders. Ask them which values they feel they embody, and where they might need to improve. Let them know how you feel about it and work together to find ways to overcome and strengthen how they live the values. Weave the values into your performance management processes, so they are ever present. Help your people reflect and deepen their self-knowledge.

The consequences.

By living your values, braving the conversation and holding people to account, you are taking ownership for your culture.

If you avoid the issue and hope it’ll go away, what you’re actually saying to your whole business is ‘not playing ball is ok’. And before you know it, your culture has evolved into a place that you never wanted work to be.

If you’d like to find out more about how to uncover your Values and bring them to life in your business, visit or contact [email protected].

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

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