If you are new to an organization and somebody shares with you their Guiding Principles, what immediately comes to mind? Typically, if you are honest, you might be inclined to think along the same vein as Mission Statements and Values and cynically reflect on the old adage of “Do what I say, not what I do”.
Part of the reason for this is because Mission Statements and Values are often viewed as being somewhat inspirational. In other words they are not actually real in the present moment. However Guiding Principles form the link between where you are today and what needs to be done to achieve the Mission and Values expectations. In addition, if scripted correctly, they are easy to understand and translate into every day actions and behaviors.
Although most organizations have their own nuances, there are enough common characteristics when thinking about what might be appropriate for your principles. At a minimum the following should be seriously considered.
Collaboration: Team work is essential in every organization and is how human systems operate most effectively. However one needs to be cognizant of the many differences that exist because of culture, discipline, experience, knowledge, etc.
Performance: Every member of an organization needs to clearly understand expectations and that a process is in place where adherence to these expectations is clearly communicated.
Planning: there is a saying that planning doesn’t guarantee success but without it you will most likely fail. The key to successful planning is effective execution.
Change: by embracing change as the opportunity to be better, this will allow your organization to remain energized, competitive and ultimately successful.
Communication: although it comes in many forms, the essence of communication is about inclusion. People by being appropriately informed will identify with the organization, be far more engaged and more likely to proactively contribute to its success.
In conclusion, Guiding Principles are designed to provide direction and clarity within an organization as well as the behavioral expectations we have for each other. They define character and culture.