They sound like a communist party slogan from the soviet era. Something like, Trust in the party and the United workers will achieve great Progress. They are in fact the easy to remember headline words of the value statement of a small deprived midland local authority I once worked for. Helpfully the website explains what each word stands for.
Trust – Shows respect, makes a personal impact, is open and honest.
Unity – Focusing on customers, working with a team, communicating effectively.
Progress – Being open to change, focusing on performance, getting team results
I did wonder if they came up with three words that they liked the sound of and then someone was tasked to expand on what they stood for in local government. I was curious to know how other local authorities were expressing their values or even if in post austerity, post Brexit debate values were considered that relevant.
I started randomly visiting LA web sites and then I had the idea of looking at all the local authorities I had worked in. This would be a reasonable cross section since I have worked in a London Bough, a big northern county council, a very big city council, a large midland county council, a small midland metropolitan bough council and a shire council down south.
Two of the county councils focused on their vision and made no obvious reference to values. Is this an indication that post Brexit what counts is that you deliver rather than how you deliver? The big city’s values were confident assertions in spite of its recent problems! The London bough was “ Putting it’s residents first” but without a short, sharp accessible explanation of what this entailed. The southern county council rather apologetically claimed,” we do the best we can” but did go on to explain what that involved including making the most of technology.
The LAs that did list their values most often included “Openness “and “Respect “. By way of contrast one large northern Authority I didn’t work for referred to,” Treating people fairly” . Northern authorities seem to prefer the three word statement. Maybe they used the same management consultants. There is Open, Honest and Trustworthy which is self explanatory but didn’t stop their chief executive from being arrested and being on police bail whilst being investigated for corruption and intimidation in their previous post. Manchester’s three words are People, Pride and Place which like Rochdale’s Pioneering, Proud and Passionate has the advantage of alliteration even if they sound more like personality traits.
It would appear from my small and very personal survey that vision is more important than values. Choice used to be big but not any more. Openness and Respect are a common element of many value statements perhaps reflecting the loss of trust in politicians at a national and local level. But the one I like the best is Choice, Respect, Dignity and Independence which are my professional values and in my opinion work equally well as corporate values.
Blair Mcpherson former Director. Author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk