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Passion, People and Principles

Employer Value Proposition

post # 212 — October 11, 2006 — a Careers, Managing, Strategy post

In last week’s Economist, there was a special report on the competition for talent, which concluded (among other things) that employers needed to develop an “Employe Value Proposition” ie a reason why a talented person would want to join (and stay with) an organization.

Good idea! Not too many examples of such ‘EVPs’ were given, but it was observed that a major theme could be delivering to talented people the “learning organization” — the chance to learn, develop and grow. However, the Economist concluded that few organizations knew how to create that.

The topic of marketing your organization to the people you want to attract has never been more timely. What The Economist got absolutely right was that you need a specific proposition to market successfully. You can’t possibly be attractive to all possible recruits. Some will want to be team players, some will want lots of autonomy. Some will want immediate rewards, some will want o be part of building something.

Some, in the language of Bob Sutton’s blog and book, want a “No Assholes” policy. Some of them want the freedom to BE the asshole!

Here are the (strictly enforced) rules I would establish to form MY company’s employer value proposition:

  • EVP rule 1: Anything that can be delegated must be
  • EVP rule 2: Only true team players allowed — no lone wolves, no matter how big their book of business
  • EVP: rule 3: Grow or go — no room for anyone who doesn’t want to take on new responsibilities and skills every year
  • EVP rule 4: Only those who are interested in helping OTHER people succeed are allowed to hold managerial or supervisory positions.
  • EVP rule 5: No (repeat offender) assholes (we all get it wrong sometimes.)
  • EVP Rule 6: Ten percent of everybody’s time and everybody’s budget is to be spent investing in the future
  • EVP 7: As soon as we know you aren’t going to et promoted, we will tell you. No faking it.
  • EVP Rule 8. If we part, we will do all we can to ensure that we part in friendship
  • EVP Rule 9: If we part, we will provide more assistance in helping you find your next job than any of our other competitors.

What do you think? Would that be an attractive EVP in your business? Would it make talented people want to work there?

What would YOU offer as a viable Employers’ Value Proposaition that would attract the best and the brightest?


Stephen Downes said:

I wouldn’t work there. Companies that express themselves via a set of rules frighten me; it’s as though they think the writing of the rule does the job. Companies that enforce the rules frighten me any more. It then becomes clear that the company is a top-down hierarchy, and worse, one in which the management will seize on fads and fashions to enforce.

What would make me take a company seriously? A company whose managers were willing to make committments on their behaviour (not the behaviour of others). Companies where the managers pledged not to micromanage. Where they pledged to make room for and provide opportunities to grow (any company that is going to make me grow goes to the bottom of the list – there are some times when I just don’t want to grow).

You get the idea. Perhaps a lot of it is in the presentation. But the presentation tells me a lot. A set of rules like this is exactly a violation of the sort of governance the rules are intended to represent.

— Stephen

posted on October 12, 2006

Tom "Bald Dog" Varjan said:

Being a manager is NOT the result of promotion for great performance. It’s just a different job with a different job description and different skills.

In many firms people work towards becoming managers, instead of working towards making the firm a better firm.

posted on October 12, 2006

David (Maister) said:

Steve, you got me. Of course, you’re right about rules missing the point. Doh!

posted on October 12, 2006

Kent Blumberg said:

I would add these three:

Our expectations of you will always be clear, and we will help you see how meeting those expectations helps the entire team.

We will make sure you have the tools and equipment (resources) to do your job well.

With your help, we will strive to understand what you do best, and give you the opportunity to do that every day.

posted on October 12, 2006

Alexei Ghertescu said:

David, what you’ve set is actully RULES. Rules that’ll probably lead your company to success. But anyway these are requirements that the employees have to meet and not the benefits that would convince “why a talented person would want to join (and stay with) an organization”.

I don’t agree with Stephen Downes who says that he wouldn’t work for a company that sets such rules. It’s goods to have clear rules (that actually look more like a set of principles) that ARE ENFORCED by managers. It’s only important to be sure that managers work according to them too.

However, in order to set the rules (quite strict ones, by the way), you have to show the benefits of joining your team. And then you come with a certain list of requirements.

Show that workin for your company is great, show how much it may give to eployees. And only then: “Buddy, this is a good game to play, but there are some rules of it…”

posted on October 12, 2006

Bo Warburton said:

I’m with Alexei in disagreeing with Stephen. Writing down your values makes them real over time. I wouldn’t confuse an honest, expressive list like David’s with the empty “value statements” you often see.

posted on October 13, 2006

jaylpea said:

At the risk of over simplifying things, the first thing that came to mind in response to this post for me was how I’d like to see the following in an EVP:

EVP: We (i.e. Executive / Management) read David Maister’s blog daily and do our upmost to stay true to the values he recommends and make changes in our organisation when out of touch with DM’s “People, Passion and Principles”.

For example, after reading the “Help me with my Strategy” post (as well as many others), I have had exactly this thought, as many of your respondents seem like attractive employers in contrast to my own!

Had I responded to that post instead of this one, I would have tried to find a way to articulate how you could perhaps help those of us who want to work in an organisation with your values, find the opportunities to do so.

That’s probably relying on others too much though, so I’m focused on trying to “manage my own career” and find those opportunities under my own steam!

posted on October 15, 2006