It’s interesting for an organisation to articulate its unique culture values. And it’s always a bit of argy bargy to settle on just four ‘cultural values’, or in plain English “the way we do things around here”.

Let me recall a planning meeting some eight years ago, and then you’ll understand why reading Lucy Kellaway’s article in the Financial Review on 14th October, made my day.

A dozen of us were moving picture cards around a boardroom table in a ‘Values and Attributes’ session. You know the drill, you whittle down 50 choices to twenty, ten then just four. Between ten and four, I retired hurt because I couldn’t get up the one critical value that I felt covered so many bases for this particular organisation. Clearly my persuasion and negotiation skills had failed me, and I also recognised that ‘Values’ (not in the general vernacular or in HR speak) are far less likely to make it as a final Organisational Value card.

So why the rejoicing when I read the Fin Review article? My word has finally become de rigueur. Conscientiousness. Happy days.

“Researchers at Washington University in St Louis have spent the last five years studying married couples, most of whom both work, and matching the success of each against five personality types: extraversion, openness, agreeableness, neuroticism and conscientiousness. They found that the last one – conscientiousness – had a large positive effect… the world belongs to conscientious people. They take out the rubbish, they make sure there’s food for supper, they turn up on time, they do what they’re meant to do, are reasonably motivated, good at planning and refusing to eat that marshmallow just now.”

The article covers both the personal and professional wins that conscientiousness delivers.

“On LinkedIn in Britain only 92,000 of its 15 million members admit to being conscientious. In contrast 12 million claim to have people skills – whatever those are. At the time of writing, EY was trying to hire a passionate IT forensics associate while JP Morgan wanted a passionate oversight and controls officer when they ought to have been looking for conscientious ones instead.”

Lucy argues that what is needed is a great re-branding of the trait and I agree. Conscientiousness is certainly not cool or sexy. Yet.

What’s your point of view?

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