Monday September 5, 2011
By Mary Jane Flanagan, Training Director
Family mottos used to be something I’d see on family crests when on school trips to dusty old stately homes. Certa salutis anchora they would proclaim and we’d spend the afternoon transcribing the latin to be absolutely none the wiser of what the family stood for. Those families spent a lot of money proclaiming their values onto their crest, their wine goblets and even on their standards carried into battle… but what on earth did it mean to most people who saw those latin words? Probably very little!
Whilst family mottos may have declined over the decades, company mottos, more commonly known as vision and values, remain strong. These are used to establish core values and a positive culture within an organisation. These days having a motto is all about setting a benchmark and allowing everyone to know what it is your business stands for. At learnpurple we have gone a step further and turned our core values into a mnemonic, AFFIRM IT, which makes it easy not only for us to live and breathe the values, but to pass them on to every one we interact with.
Mnemonics are an incredibly brilliant tool for anyone involved in learning and development. Put quite simply, a mnemonic is a technic that aids the memory and once learnt a mnemonic stays with you for life.
As a parent I use the same mnemonic formula that I use for business, it is one that works particularly well for values as they have to be consistent and durable – the SAME formula.
• Simple, easy to understand
• Able to be translated into every day behaviours
• Memorable and different
• Exciting and inspirational
It may sound odd to use a business approach for one’s own family, but I am not alone with this thinking (The Queen’s own father George VI referred to his family as ‘The Firm’). Twice a year, “Team Flanagan” review the prior six months and set our goals going forward. By doing this we have been able to keep on track, stay motivated and move forward with our wishes hopes and dreams… and most importantly everyone gets heard. Creating our values became just an extension of that.
It is so important that everyone buys into the values. At work ,as indeed at home with Team Flanagan, there is no room for grand statements that ultimately mean nothing. I think back to those school trips, and those painstakingly carved family mottos and it becomes clear – values have to be simple. They have to be something that those who embody those values must be able to uphold, they must be something that real people can do.
Values, simple as they are, provide us with the framework within which we can behave and help us make appropriate decisions in the future. Inside us all we have values and it is surprising how by sitting down as a unit (family at home or work) and allowing everyone a chance to have their say, allows people to express their core values. This does sound like a potential risk of confrontation but it is amazing how open communication on this topic creates a safe and non -confrontational environment.
And so Team Flanagan sat down to create OUR values. As I said everyone gets to contribute, because what we come up with will be our mnemonic… the thing we refer to bring us back to moral compass and value base. We had a frank discussion about how we interact with each other and those we meet. I asked my nine year old son what he would do if he walked down a street and the front door to his favourite shop was wide open with the lights off and no one was around.
I will not lie. I held my breath till the response came. He said he would find a policeman and tell him.
The answer gave us the first letter of our mnemonic.
It took time, however we all were very satisfied with the final result. Our family motto, just like the mnemonic I live and breathe at learnpurple, is one that I know represents who each member of Team Flanagan are. Having values that everyone buys into is an intrinsic ingredient of success of any enterprise.
So I say HELLO… from Team Flanagan:
Empathy (see it from my perspective and act accordingly)
Love (say it and show it often)
Laughter (loud and proud and have fun)
Ownership (take responsibility for your actions and what you need to do)
Have you been inspired by a company motto? What would your family values be?