It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is over, those of us lucky enough to be in paid employment or enterprise are heading back to work and the children are contemplating the imminent arrival of school, lessons and homework.

It started me thinking. What if we had competency frameworks that weren’t just masterpieces of psychological thought? What if we said what we need to say in the way that we communicate to a child what’s expected of him or her at primary school?

We’d probably end up with something that’s not quite as precise but it could be a whole lot more meaningful. It might even get remembered and used!

Here’s what I’d include:

  • Tell the truth – deceitfulness is never a good foundation for a career and is at the root of most corporate failure.
  • Keep your promises – how much simpler would performance management be if we did! I suspect engagement levels in organisations would soar on the back of this one alone.
  • Respect other people’s property – and that includes passing off other peoples’ ideas as your own. If you borrow things, give them back and if you are inspired by others, give them credit.
  • If you make a mess – clear it up. Not just oil spills but also strategies that didn’t work so well at execution stage. Be humble, admit your mistakes and rather than just moving on and looking after yourself or blaming another person, be part of putting things right.
  • Say sorry without being asked. We all make mistakes. We all hurt people’s feelings. It seems to me that saying sorry is even more uncommon than saying thanks in many places.
  • Stand tall and speak up. It’s no accident that at the root of much of the coaching that we do is self-confidence and self-esteem. Respect and accept yourself.
  • Listen when other people are talking. That means looking away from the computer or the Blackberry and giving somebody that precious gift of complete attention. It possibly also means listening with heart and not just using the time to decide what you are going to say next!
  • Count to ten. An important part of developing maturity is learning emotional control. Decisions made in haste and on the basis of incomplete information are not uncommon. We repent at leisure!
  • Daydream once in a while. Getting things done is important but respect the power of your imagination. Let your mind wander and think about the full range of possibilities. Try a new approach once in a while.


Chris leads Serco Consulting’s Organisational Psychology and Change service line and is a Chartered member of the CIPD, a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the European Coaching and Mentoring Council (EMCC) and an experienced management consultant and coach.

He holds a BSc. (Hons) in Psychology, an MA in Law and Employment Relations (Dist.), post graduate qualifications in Business and Executive Coaching and has over 20 years of HRM experience.