Do you have defined values for your company? Like real, honest, “these things guide everything we do” kind of values?
If not, you may want to take a bit to come up with some. While we are not going to cover how to develop your values (for that, check out this link or this infographic), we are going to talk about how values can help your company in this article.
Our values at Jar and Design Pickle (the company Jar was born from) are Friendly, Smart-Working, Truth, and Service. These four simple words guide our internal actions and help a diverse team come together under a common mindset.
Values aren’t just some cutesy words that hang in our lobby. We live and die by them. They have provided us with benefits far beyond declaring what we believe in. Our values help us:
- Find like-minded clients
- Make harder decisions easier
- Recruit people we want to work with
- Have something to set goals to & measure performance against
Here is how our values have helped Jar and Design Pickle grow into the best organizations they can be.
Finding Like-Minded Clients
Externally we seek out clients who respect our values. Clients that share our values land up becoming some of our greatest customers. This is by design.
If you think values are reserved for large companies who hire expensive consultants, think again. Values (along with a mission and vision) have been a game-changing factor in every successful business when taken to heart.
We talk about our values early on in any relationship, like when hiring a vendor, employee or pitching a new client. Our values determine the social contract of all interactions. If there is ever a breach of this social contract, our values help us to assess the situation and show us where we can make better decisions in the future.
Values Provide A Guide for Decision Making
Not long ago a Design Pickle issue took a turn for the worse. A client was requesting a refund, outside the timeframe of our terms and conditions. The customer success lead approached the issue following the exact letter of the law and declined their request. Unfortunately, their approach was far from friendly, including screenshots from our terms and conditions and a rather cold sorry-we-can’t-do-anything approach.
Now, to their credit, the customer success team handles hundreds, if not thousands of client issues every week with a friendly approach that puts Sesame Street to shame. Their response was a lapse. We quickly reframed the issue and asked one simple question, was our approach friendly? In that light, the answer was no. Everyone involved realized there was a better, more value-driven approach, and we course corrected.
Regardless of what the letter of the law said, aside from doing something explicitly illegal, allowing your core values to trump policy will result in the best outcome every time. Just make sure you actually have values, and your team is brainwashed about them daily.
Recruiting People We Want to Work With
Hiring people that will gel well with your team is much simpler when you have a common focus and set of values. Before hiring a potential employee, we ask ourselves some simple questions to see if they align with our values.
- Friendly: Are they friendly in the interview?
- Smart Working: Do they seem like the person who is going to work and evolve, rather than work and refuse to change their habits?
- Truth: Are they honest and upfront?
- Service: Do they care about serving their community and our community of customers?
It is unlikely that a team member would succeed at Jar or Design Pickle without “passing” these questions.
Once we ensure that all team members have the capability to meet these values, they’re repeatedly taught and brought up throughout their time at the company. Our values are taught extensively during our onboarding process, and discussed again in team meetings, retreats, and other important company gatherings.
Having Something to Set Goals To & Measure Performance Against
Measuring employee performance suddenly becomes easier when you know what you want your employees to strive after. Do they demonstrate your values on a daily basis? What have they done to show that they really take the company’s values to heart? What can they do to better personify your values?
Most performance reviews can be nerve wracking and super stressful for employees because they’re not always sure what they’re measured against. Letting them know what to expect can ease that stress, and make your job as reviewer easier. Win-win.
Values, along with mission and vision are the cornerstones of any successful organization. Companies who do not have a value framework in place will struggle to scale as well as provide a consistent experience for their team, clients, and vendors. Those that do will find that they attract like-minded clients, make better decisions, recruit employees with a great cultural fit, and make goal setting for the organization and employees easier.
Want to read more about how values contribute to client happiness? Check out “Designing great customer relationships: A guide to creating happy customers for clients.”