Organic Company Values taste much better than pre-packed
— July 29th, 2014
Earlier this year I was privileged to be included in a HR-led cross-departmental task group charged with ‘defining’ our company values.
Time to get the thesaurus out, we thought, and find words that would work for Newsweaver; Friendly, Innovative, Knowledgeable, Professional, etc etc...
Job done, right?... Well not exactly!
Company values need to apply to everyone in the organization
Poppulo is a SaaS solutions provider based in Cork, Ireland, with its American HQ Boston. We also have employees working remotely across other regions and we have grown rapidly in recent years to a point where it now has a multi-disciplinary workforce across its many locations.
As we grew so too did the need to define our values to preserve how we work and how we impact those we work with. We had a great company culture from the outset and for our Founder and CEO, Andrew O'Shaughnessy, it was imperative that this culture is sustained as we grew. Instead of setting out the values that underpinned our culture himself, he felt that we, employees from across the company, should do this.
So we set out as a team to do this, to identify and agree the values that formed the culture that made Poppulo – or Newsweaver as it was then known –not only successful but also a great place to work.
In our first meeting as a Values team, we identified 35 values that could be applied to Poppulo. Each had merit, but when we looked at how they could be applied to different employee groups, it became clear that for each company value to be accepted and lived, each needed to resonate with every employee.
For example – Agility is a common company value. While it’s completely relevant to our development team, it would be difficult for certain employees who work to defined processes and procedures to live this value every day.
35 down to 6
Our 35 values became value indicators and the process of grouping similar themed values began which formed our final selection of 6 value statements. What we produced was not new to our company... it transpired that these were values that we were living on a daily basis. Our team had simply articulated what we could already see and hear throughout the organization every day – how we interact with each other, our customers and other stakeholders.
The 6 Values that we defined in 2014 are:
- Adapt To Succeed
- Be The Example
- Don't Just Work - Learn
- Together We're Better
- Honesty Throughout
- High Standards As Standard
If employees weigh-in, they buy-in
Employee engagement expert Andrew Blacknell spoke at Poppulo User Conference and pointed out that “if employees weigh-in, they buy-in”. In the process of articulating Poppulo's values, this was certainly the case. Our team did not create the organization’s values; they were created organically over the last two decades of the company's existence by those that helped build the company to what it is today.
When presenting our findings, first to management, then to all employees, we received complete enthusiasm and acceptance from across the company. The values are not a dictate from senior management on how we should work; they are a living, breathing and ever-evolving roadmap to how Newsweaver, and we as employees, will continue to grow and prosper.
Our values articulated
We’ve never put it in writing before; however, we believe our values have been fundamental to Poppulo's success from the start. By articulating and sharing our values, we ensure that what makes us great will continue into the future.
It’s our message to customers, partners, and colleagues about who we are, how we work and what we believe in: our values shape our attitudes, motivations, expectations, and behaviors.
The talented people that are the Poppulo team will inevitably change as we grow, but six values, our culture and how we do business will remain the same.