Taking Values to the Next Level

Taking Values to the Next Level

21 Jun 19 4mins Jon Midmer


Last year, my colleagues and I invested considerable time refreshing our company values. It was time well spent! I really do believe a good set of values are powerful, because they express in distilled form what a like-minded group of people hold most dear and consider their collective ‘true north’. Ours are Quality, Trust and Care. 

Even the best and most meaningful sets of values have their limits, though. This is largely because abstract nouns are inevitably open to interpretation, mean different things to different people and cannot – at least, not by themselves – set the bar for performance. 

Having recently attended an inspiring company off-site meeting in which we received some really excellent, if extremely challenging, personal development training, I was keen that we harness the spirit of the training and the tenor of our vales, and overlay these onto what we have traditionally called the ‘JMA Success Factors’ – the key skills and competencies we believe it is necessary to have to be effective at JMA. The aim was to come up with a new set of behaviours that concretely and unambiguously define high performance. 

Following input from the entire team, the result is the (unsurprisingly) entitled ‘JMA Behaviours’. The beauty of them is that they define standards and translate our values into observable, measurable actions that can be assessed, coached and improved upon. 

Even to outsiders, I don’t think any of what we’re aiming for should be surprising, but perhaps some of the how might be? It’s clear to everyone at JMA, however, that these are precisely the things that ‘make JMA JMA’. 

Unusually, maybe, for a professional services search firm – but perhaps not, given our team spans multiple nationalities and cultures, and our third value is ‘Care’ – we expressly require everyone at JMA to display compassion, to adapt their behaviour to accommodate other people’s needs and feelings, and to lead with a big heart. We also require everyone to recognise achievements as much as possible and treat suppliers as we would clients, candidates or, indeed, each other. 

If you think this is all a bit touchy feely, it isn’t. You’d be surprised how much harder people work when you show respect and consideration, and go out of your way to praise and motivate them! Providing and receiving continuous feedback, another one of the behaviours, entails significant thought, work and emotional maturity. 

Furthermore, you’re not allowed to stand still or rest on your laurels: at JMA you’re required to continuously learn and help build the company, and everyone must take active responsibility for growing themselves and developing others. Come the end of the year, the hard edge is apparent: these behaviours are the yardstick by which performance is measured… and pay determined. 

I don’t know if the JMA Behaviours make sense to you, but they do to us, and I guess that’s the point. It’s only when you’re in a company’s eco-system that sentences such as these really make sense. It’s my sincere hope that by having a gold standard as regards what ‘what great looks like’ at JMA, we will become a stronger, even more consistently high-performing, values-led firm. 

The JMA Behaviours 

At JMA, our deeply-held values of Quality, Trust and Care ensure we don’t compromise when it comes to what we’re aiming for, how we deliver, or how we evaluate performance. The JMA Behaviours are lived and breathed by those who are most successful, and who deliver most effectively and in the right way, at JMA: 

1) Relationships & Communication 

  • We value and respect difference, build authentic, caring, compassionate, long-term relationships with colleagues, candidates, clients and suppliers across cultures, geographies and time zones, and adapt our style and behaviour to suit others’ needs and feelings 
  • We communicate clearly, frequently, honestly and respectfully, and thank, encourage and recognise as much as possible

2) Accountability & Teamwork 

  • We have a strong work ethic and a desire to excel, are self-motivated and work urgently, pro-actively, tenaciously and responsively 
  • We have a high level of personal responsibility and accountability, and work equally well on our own and collaboratively, as part of a close-knit, interdependent, globally-dispersed team 

3) Process & Innovation 

  • We are reliable, manage our workload effectively, deliver to deadlines, respect confidentiality, capture data appropriately, accurately and systematically, produce first-rate documentation and deliver a bespoke, surprise-free process to colleagues, candidates and clients 
  • We have high standards and constantly try to improve the status quo 

4) Selling & Influencing 

  • We present ourselves, JMA and opportunities we are working on warmly, memorably and compellingly to colleagues, clients and candidates 
  • We know when to sell and push, and when to concede 

5) Judgement & Sensitivity 

  • We know what the right thing to do is. If we don’t, as almost everything we do is sensitive and confidential, we ask for advice 
  • We spot great candidates and effectively match them to roles and clients 

6) Learning & Developing 

  • We are continuously learning and expanding our knowledge of processes, sectors, companies, candidates, clients, and current and potential suppliers, and use this knowledge to build JMA 
  • We give and welcome constructive feedback, and are constantly developing and growing ourselves and others to become big-hearted leaders