Lessons for Tesco in resurfacing their values

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September 11th, 2014

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Just seven days in post and Tesco’s new CEO, Dave Lewis, is reportedly looking at sweeping management changes in order to improve morale and is vowing to take Tesco back to its core values. And, while he clearly has his own thoughts he has promised to spend time listening, learning and observing.

Our Management Agenda 2014 research highlights that the vast majority of managers understand their organisation’s strategy and values but this picture masks the clear differences between perspectives of managers at different levels of seniority, with the more junior managers being less clear than their peers further up the organisation’s hierarchy. So we can imagine how challenging it might be to ensure those working in stores across the country really understand and can buy-in to Tesco’s values.

But those values clearly exist as people go about their everyday work, impacting on the experience their customers have in store. So clearly it isn’t a case of throwing out what is already in place and starting afresh, but resurfacing the values that are already embedded.

Here at Roffey Park, we have just completed an exercise in resurfacing our own values as we recognised that we were living our values but we wanted to give them more prominence and commitment amongst ourselves, and in our work with clients. We were determined to bring clarity to bear and so created a small, cross-functional project team to enable this to happen.

Over the course of the next 6-8 months, we carried out a number of activities which were designed to uncover what is in place. This included:

  • Involving all stakeholders from the beginning by asking all staff to meet in teams to discuss and report back on their thoughts on our values and their meaning. We also sought the views from our Board of Trustees and our clients.
  • Drilling down through the data collected we brought together a focus group of representatives across the organisation to create a shorter list of values as well as developing descriptive words to capture the essence of these values.
  • Asking for feedback from all staff on the shorter list in order to fine tune these into a final result.

The outcome has been a set of values that are succinct, memorable and meaningful because everyone has had a hand in co-creating them.

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Roffey Park’s Values

While values are the lifeblood of an organisation, another critical element is restating your common purpose – why are we here doing what we are doing – and this would be a good starting point for Dave Lewis.

Last but certainly not least, as leaders of organisations we need to embody the values ourselves. The Tesco initiative is only likely to succeed if the senior management team is willing to model its values in a truly authentic way.