Bury My Heart at Conference Room B: The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers by Stan Slap ($15 @ Amazon) is about finding a way to mesh your personal values with the values of the business, and how showing your values to your team and encouraging them to live and work to their values can make a big difference in how organizations work. It was one of those books where sometimes I thought ‘yeah, I get it’, and other times I was a bit bewildered, just not sure where and how it would work.
The values thing spoke to me. I’ve got a strong sense of values that are mine, and while I don’t expect the business or my team to mirror those, I don’t tolerate well anything that makes me feel like my own values are being compromised. It’s hard to say that without seeming like a zealot, but there are places where compromise is possible over the short term, but not over the long term. For example, I believe in being honest with employees and team members, but there are times when you’re required to keep secrets – say the company is considering laying off employees. I don’t see that as being in conflict with my values of integrity and honesty.
Back to the book (which I listened to as it was read by the author), I thought, how many people don’t stick to their values at work and how much must that cost them? How would I manage differently if instead of trying to understand if they are an introvert or extrovert I understood what was most important to them? I can see that being a hard question to ask and get answered, there’s a fear line there – should I say “money” or will that hurt me?
He has some interesting stories in the book, both personal and about his work, including what amounted to an intervention with the sales team at Microsoft. He talks about the theory and the reality, that implementing this type of program isn’t easy and that it won’t always work smoothly, which I find encouraging because few things are as simple as following a recipe.
Should you read this, and if so, when? It’s not a book of immediate results, it’s theory and it’s something that most of us won’t be able to widely implement unless we’re pretty close to the top of an organization. It’s not a bad book, and taking time to think about values is time well spent, but you’ve got to be ready for it. Not sure I was entirely.
There’s an exercise in the book I’ll be doing in the next week or so, and I’ll share the results and a link to the exercise when I’m done, because I’d like to see what you think.