IBM – Values that drive global innovation through inspired people

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Continuing our podcast series, we were honoured to interview Kate Ross, Learning Leader and Development Coach at IBM UK Early Professionals Programmes.

In a global organisation comprised of approximately 300,000 employees, and in an industry undergoing constant change, Kate points out the importance of defining pivotal elements that remain constant – despite changing work climate and evolving company culture.

“In the midst of change, you need at least one common thread that stays the same,” says Kate. Something that gives people a firm foothold to rely on, even when the world around them is going a little crazy. It could be a new habit, or shared common values. I believe these consistencies are comforting and help us to be productive.”

IBM’s core values form this foundation. Discussed in the ILM Leading Through Values report, in which IBM participated as a case study, these values are:

  • Dedication to every client’s success
  • Innovation that matters for our company and for the world
  • Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

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“Kate notes that IBM’s three values underpin the way that IBM employees (affectionately called “IBMers”) work on a day-to-day basis. She goes on to say that the organisation has endeavoured to create a workforce that can be recognised by their behaviours, through practising these values.

Clarifying this statement, Kate points out, “We are not being told how to act. IBM values give us a guideline, an anchor, to guide our behaviour. How these manifest daily, across countries, cultures and departments, is diverse.””

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Far from being restrictive in nature, IBM’s values are designed to give its employees the security and broad guidelines to go out, take calculated risks, be courageous and resourceful, and create and innovate. These values are further designed to break stereotypes about the industry, stir a love for technology, and encourage people to pursue their passions both professionally and personally. They are intended to inspire “IBMers” to exploit their own curiosity, while working toward the organisation’s ultimate purpose: that of making the world of work a better place.

In this mind-opening podcast, Kate shares how IBM drives its values – and instils dedication in its people – using technology and AI, reward and recognition, a from-the-top-down embodiment of values and behaviours, and a culture of mentorship coaching.

Listen to the full conversation – rich with anecdotes and stories – with IBM’s Kate Ross and ILM’s Anna Sheard.

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