Category: Behaviour

I’m sorry. I’m about to change the world

We need to apologise more in business.

We need to be prepared to apologise more.

And we need to mean it when we say it.

Many, many people in business refuse to say sorry because they assume it means they accept full responsibility. (To be fair, there are enough people in business who are very much prepared to let someone else take the fall, so there is that.)

Saying sorry means they have something to apologise for. It means they stuffed up. Which makes them a failure. Which means no one will ever hire them. Which means their career is rooted. Just because they accepted responsibility for being five minutes late to a meeting.

It must be someone else’s fault.

In those situations, it’s very easy to create an environment where, for me to be right, you must be wrong.

For me to win, you have to lose.

All of which creates a very black and white environment.

Like the current political conversation. Or the environmental question.

It’s great for an argument down at the pub.

But arguments at the pub aren’t supposed to go anywhere. They’re supposed to go round and round. That’s what makes them fun.

Business doesn’t have that luxury.

All we have to do to change it is accept responsibility for our actions.

Offer genuine apologies, not buck passing acknowledgements.

Try it.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I didn’t get that done. I said I would, and I didn’t. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for the frustration I’ve caused.

I’m sorry if you carried that frustration.

I’m sorry if I buggered up your day.

I’m sorry. I now see you were right.

I’m sorry. My lack of communication caused us to triple the work load – and I’d like to apologise for that.

I’m sorry I’ve been uncontactable when I said I would be.

I’m sorry. I’ve changed my mind. If I’d done it earlier, we could have all got some sleep. I’m sorry for that.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for blaming someone else when it was my responsibility.

I’m sorry for blaming you.

I’m sorry for being a twat.

“I’m sorry” changes the conversation from one of blame to one where collaboration can start taking place.

“I’m sorry” allows people to reset their emotions.

“I’m sorry” might just put us all on the same team.

It might just be the two words that change the world.

And if it doesn’t, I’m sorry.

And if it does, I tell you what. I’ll let you take all the praise.

The trouble with brand values

A value isn’t a value until it costs you money.

For many businesses, the values carefully typeset and hung on the foyer wall are simple statements which the business would like to be true, or would like their customers and their people to believe are true.

Until the time a business decision must be made which pits profits against values, most values go unnoticed by both the business, staff and customers.

And too often, for these businesses, in the battle between the irresistible moral high ground and the immovable bottom line, the bottom line wins.

Not that the value wasn’t good. Just that the value wasn’t right for the business.

They can and should be your secret weapon in realising your business goals.

Values are the core of the moral code.

A value is something you will not compromise on.

This is true of people.

And true of business.

The problem with many business values is not the values themselves, it’s the role those values play in business.

Honesty, Sustainability and Genuine Value For The Customer are good values.

Little wonder they’re shared by 90% of all businesses.

The question is a simple one, “What purpose do they serve?”

If they do not help a business reach its business and reputational goals, they’re just something nice you’d like your customers to hear.

Values serve a simple function. They align the behaviour of the people in the business with the goals of the business. They provide an objective foundation for judging the actions of others and provide a clear decision lens through which to determine the ideal behaviour of individuals, teams, management and the board.

The provide solid foundations for the development of behaviours which win new business and retain existing customers.


… too many businesses determine their values before they determine their business and reputational goals.

No wonder the actions of the people are counter to the promises the business is making to its market, and at odds with the drive to business success.

Determine the business goals first.

From there, determine the reputational goal.

And then ask yourself, “How must we act in order to reach those goals?”

Those action cues become your values.

If your business and reputational goals are different to your competitors, your values will be different, which means your people will behave differently, which provides an authentic, differentiating reason for your customer to stay with you.

Let your goals determine your values.

Your values are the pact you make with your people.

They are seen in your behaviour and reflected in their actions.

The actions of your people become proof of the promises you make to your customers.


Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the weekend