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Our Values: Engaging our People

Sept 11 2001

We arrived in London on Sept 11, having flown from New York the previous night. It was a beautiful Autumn morning as we hit the streets shopping. Around midday, cell phones starting ringing. One of our team, Josie, got a call from her daughter who lived in London and she told us the news. It shook us. The day before I’d debated taking Josie up to the viewing platform of Tower 2, it was her first time in the city, but we ran out of time. I rang Lou at home and told her to turn on TV. She’d planned to fly up and join us in Italy, but we cancelled her trip. The world had changed.

A calling

The events of 9/11 sobered me and seemed to give me more empathy. How could people be so disillusioned that they resorted to this? It got me looking for ways to put more positivity into the world and create more joy and happiness at work. How could we better engage our people and those we touched?

What’s a health check on your business?

Two years later I was at a conference and a Human Resources guy was speaking. I’d always been dismissive of the need for HR, but what he said intrigued me “The best thing you can do is take a health check from your people, get some 360 degree feedback on what it’s like to work in your company.” A month later I gave him a project to do just that.

The painful truth

We asked everyone in the stores and support office to fill out an anonymous survey with 10 simple questions; what came back concerned me. While there was some good stuff (we were goal orientated and people knew what they had to achieve) there wasn’t a lot of joy or recognition for doing a good job. Something had to be done...

Launching our Values

Michele joined us in early 2004 as People and Development Manager; the first thing she did was ask everyone in the organization what our Values should be. She explained “Values guide us in everyday action and how we should treat each other.” We refined our original list of 50 words to the 6 values we live and breathe today.

New pride

Unlike other companies, we celebrate our values constantly. Each week we receive over 100 values nominations from all corners of our company, and distribute them for all to see. I believe focus on values has built our culture of engagement, and we use them everyday. I take great pride that we’ve been a finalist in the annual New Zealand Best Work Place Awards ever since, having won this award several times.

Written by Shane Anselmi