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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Core Value #5: Collaboration

The Thomas Nelson I joined over a decade ago was famous for silos.  One of the buzz phrases around the office was that "steel sharpens steel" and the implication was a cultural value of intense internal competition.  We've worked very hard to reshape the organization into one of the most collaborative organizations I've ever experienced.  This is not just a Core Value; this is one of our success stories.
Again, from The Nelson Way orientation manual:

We seek to maximize mutually beneficial partnerships, both internal and external.  This means:

  • We share ideas and information with those inside the company.
  • We share ideas and information with our external partners.
  • We seek to understand the needs and objectives of other divisions.
  • We foster an environment that encourages open but candid dialog and vigorous but respectful debate.
  • We resolve conflicts in a healthy and timely way.
  • We encourage collaboration, publicly acknowledge it, and reward it in practical ways.
  • We use a team based approach to problem solving.
Biblical support for this value can be found in the following: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Like a lot of Christian businesses and organizations we continue to push for greater candor and less fear of healthy confrontation and discussion. 

If you are laboring in a workplace where the culture is cutthroat and/or hyper competitive please know that the culture there can be changed.  It takes will from the leadership and examples from the staff and time.  It can be done.  We've done it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Core Value #4: Focus and Discipline

The world is full of distractions.  Information comes to us faster and from more sources than ever before.  Social Media allows us to establish community with countless niches to satisfy almost any personal or professional interest.  The pull of gravity in a business day seems to be more toward the distractions and sometimes conflicts rather than on what really drives organizational performance. 

As a guide in dealing with the realities of the business life we have articulated the following (again from The Thomas Nelson Way orientation manual).

We are focused and disciplined in our business activities. This means:

  • We organize and focus our people and resources for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
  • We routinely evaluate our fiscal performance.
  • We seek the counsel of others, both inside and outside of our company, on important issues and decisions.
  • We respect each others' time.
  • We adhere to company policy.
  • We practice good stewardship of our resources.
  • We deliver what we promise.
  • We seek continuous improvement in all that we do.
Biblical support for this value can be found in the following verses: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:10); as well as, "Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations" (Proverbs 27:23). 

Next post we'll finish up with our fifth core value, Collaboration.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Core Value #3: World Class Talent

In our continued look at the Core Values of Thomas Nelson, Inc. today we examine one that fundamentally impacts our life in the HR department.  Again, from The Nelson Way orientation manual:

We do what is necessary to attract, develop, and retain world-class talent.  This means:
  • We recruit the very best people we can find.
  • We develop our people's strengths and provide continuing opportunities for personal and professional growth.
  • We clearly communicate and reinforce roles, responsibilities, and job expectations.
  • We communicate to our employees how we as a Company are doing.
  • We communicate to our employees how they as employees are doing.
  • We monitor employee satisfaction, acknowledge issues we discover, and respond as appropriate.
  • We recognize, reward, and publicly honor outstanding performance.
  • We pay our people fairly and competitively.
Biblical support for this value can found in Mark 3:13-15 and Acts 17:6.

These stated behaviors and this value drive our HR and recognitions programs.  Since the implementation of these values we started the quarterly All Employee Meetings where we openly disclose our financial performance to all employees.  We started the annual Star Awards program, quarterly Impact Award for excellence in service departments and quarterly Momentum Awards for the Sales and Publishing groups showing the greatest performance improvement from the prior year. 

They also drive our compensation programs.  We study our compensation vs. the marketplace every 16 - 18 months and we make adjustments as performance and market conditions warrant.  Every new hire and newly promoted employee is paid within the market range for their position.

This drives our coaching.  A few years ago we eliminated performance appraisals, opting instead for a system of day-to-day coaching rather than an annual sit-down meeting.  There is no doubt that our performance as a company at the very least has not suffered, and there is a case to be made that it has improved. We believe nobody should have to wait for an annual review to know how they are doing.

It also drives our recruiting.  We seek intelligent professionals committed to our mission.  We purposefully search for good collaborators (Value 5 in an upcoming post) and avoid people, even gifted people, who are self promoters and/or don't work well with others.  It is the combination of intelligence, passion, commitment and willingness to work within a team that for our company defines World Class Talent.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Core Value #2: Serving Others

Again, from The Nelson Way orientation manual:

"We Serve Others with Humility.  This means:

  • We are alert to the needs of others and look for opportunities to help with with their assignments and responsibilities.
  • We take the initiative to serve without waiting to be asked.
  • We give to others of our time and other resources without expecting anything in return.
  • We respond quickly to email and phone messages, replying within 24 hours to every message.
  • We serve others, even when it is not convenient.
  • We consistently do more than is required of us.
Biblical support for this value can be found in John 13: 14-17 and Matthew 20: 27, 28."

Does this happen every time, with every person, every day.  Of course not.  That is the essence of humanity that we seek to be more and do better than we usually achieve.  What sets a values-driven workplace apart, however, is our goal and desire to live these values in our daily lives, including our working lives. 

If we don't do this as a company, call us on it! If your co-worker doesn't do it, call them on it as well in a spirit of love and grace.  If you don't do it yourself, strive tomorrow to do and be better.  It is in the struggle that we experience the grace we all seek.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Core Value # 1: Honoring God

So how does someone "honor God" at work?  How in a for-profit corporation do you successfully conduct business?  What does that look like to the workforce?

When the Executive Leadership Team developed and defined our core values several years ago we took special pains to also define how this manifests itself in the workplace both for the company and those who work there.  Here's where we landed (taken from "The Thomas Nelson Way" orientation manual):

"We honor God in Everything We Do."  This means:

  • We seek God's direction in all that we do.
  • We give God the glory for our successes.
  • We take responsibility for our weakness and failures.
  • We honor our commitments, even when ti is difficult, expensive, or inconvenient.
  • We tell the truth even when it is uncomfortable.
  • We treat our employees, authors, vendors, customers and competitors with respect.
  • We offer God our best, most creative work and leave the results to Him.
  • We thank God in all things, regardless of our circumstances.
Biblican support for this value can be found Revelation 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 6:20. 

Next topic:  What is means to "Serve Others" at Thomas Nelson.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Overview of Our Core Values

Thomas Nelson, Inc. operates under five core values. These values are the ideals that we esteem as a company and are considered the foundation of our corporate ideology. We believe our core values are what make us unique as a company—they define our working principles and guide our actions. Over the next few days I'll re-post this information in more detail to inform potential candidates and to remind our team of who we are and for what we stand as an organization.

Our Mission is to "Inspire the World".

Our Core Values are:

  1. Honoring God
  2. Serving Others
  3. World Class Talent
  4. Focus and Discipline
  5. Collaboration

If you want to see all this information now and in greater detail you can find it under the Mission and Values section of our corporate home page or at http://www.thomasnelsoncorporate.com/mission/