November 6, 2013

Values Not Targets

Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival for 21 nights. He won the bet!

Last week I was having dinner with a group of bankers from HSBC. Frustratingly for a comic not one of them had been to Eton or Cambridge, some were women and two of them (shock horror) even had northern accents, they didn’t even drink champagne! They were friendly, funny, clever open, honest and humble which are not the traits used to write jokes about banking!

Eventually talk turned to work but what was really interesting was that they weren’t talking about profit, loss and targets, they were talking about values.

I found this fascinating because generally values are the soft squishy things that companies talk about but really ignore. What was apparent was that these guys not only valued their values, but as far as they were concerned they underpinned how they should do business.

Now if I asked you what your personal values were I’m sure you could tell me, but if I asked you to list your company’s values, could you?

Businesses are made up of people. In general I find people to be good and honest. Of course in any company there will always be greedy people, arrogant people, careerists, opportunists and more than likely (I’m afraid to say) even some stupid people.

Well that’s ok as long we make sure these people don’t set the values of the company.

More importantly though, targets are not values! You only have to look at what happens in banks, hospitals, newspapers even the police force when targets become more important than valuing their customers and employees.

So before you set any new targets for your company it might be worth cross checking them with your company values. In my experience the companies that are defined by their values rather than just by their targets are the ones that really succeed.

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.


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