Business acronym to understand: B.R.A.V.E.

Valuable business acronym = B.R.A.VE.

In a business context, B.R.A.V.E. indicates or stands for:

  • Behaviors
  • Relationships
  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Environment

That’s pretty much everything, right?

If you stop and think about it, yes, this is a BS business acronym, just like 92,183 others out there in the world. But … this one actually makes a little bit of sense, in all honesty. Consider:

  • Behaviors: This is crucial. There has to be some kind of way that your business or organization is organized, as in “What are the key behaviors?” Most of the time companies get this wrong and they throw some pie-in-the-sky bullshit (“Be excellent!”) at the wall and then everyone runs around chasing what’s theirs anyway. The other issue companies often have is they mistake behavior as a synonym for process. Those things are similar, but they are not actually the same. You need processes so that people know how to do things, yes, but the processes you set up are different than the behaviors you’re endorsing for your people. Behaviors, unfortunately, almost have to be modeled by senior leaders. I say “unfortunately” there because classic management structure inverts all logic — management isn’t intuitive — and puts leaders furthest from the customers, but closest to the perks and balance sheets. As a result, their focus is almost never on culture. It’s on money. They model the wrong behaviors. That happens in a lot of places.
  • Relationships: This is everything at work. You need social capital to succeed. Here’s the ironic thing that no one really thinks about or discusses: if you’re good at relationships, you can often circumvent process. For example, let’s say your company has a process that you need to go through some specific group to get a specific task done (like a password change). If you have a relationship with the guy/girl that actually changes passwords, you can usually go directly to them, get it done, and circumvent the waiting if you’re in some standard queue. This is also why it’s valuable to actually care about what other people do at your job.
  • Attitudes: Don’t let people get away with being a dick, essentially. Almost every middle manager in every company in the world is a total dick when they write e-mails, for example. Since e-mail is often the preferred form of communication in most companies, how about we actually punish these people for these things? Attitudes and behaviors. Don’t tolerate crappy ones, right?
  • Values: Again, pie in the sky bullshit for most companies. “These are our values!” = “This is what we’ll say to the rank-and-file but our actual focus is on making money, then making more money!” It’s all an elaborate game at most organizations. Here’s the thing, though: you stand for nothing, and that means you fall for anything. When economic tough times hit (and they again will), the companies with actual values who understand what those values are and why those values are in place? Those are the ones that do well.
  • Environment: I think most people think this means “where” a company is located, i.e. its physical address. I also think it means the physical culture of a company, such as basic things i.e. “Do managers walk around and talk to people?” At most places, managers are holed up chasing their own dreams with their superiors or peers. That, in a nutshell, is why communication sucks in most companies — it’s a cross-pollination of “misunderstanding the importance of hierarchy” and “things not getting passed down the chain effectively.” The third pillar, of course, is “No one cares because it’s not perceived as a revenue skill.”

A lot of this rolls up with the concept of onboarding, or how an employee spends their first six-12 weeks at a company. Onboarding is a complete farce at most companies. They often think of it as “we need people who can hit the ground running,” which is a joke because if you attempt to hit a ground while running, you will smash your face and lose teeth. (The non-physical version of this happens all the time at offices.) In reality, onboarding should be a time to set up the culture and values of a place — not a time to mindlessly assign tasks. You should discuss work goals, both short- and long-term, and you should try to determine where the new employee feels their value lies.

Most companies don’t do that — they have a HR meeting, a boss meeting, and then Day II is when the out-of-context deliverables start flying over the fence.

What if we thought about work through this B.R.A.V.E. idea and started building entry programs off that?

Ted Bauer

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