The Importance of Company Values and How we Defined Ours

The Importance of Company Values and How we Defined Ours

    Linda Stein joined the team in September to lead on Marketing & Communications. Here, she talks about her reasons for joining and the process of defining Identify HR's core values. 

    My reasons for joining Identify HR were largely values based. The company had a strong, loyal client base and a vision for growth – I wanted to support and be part of this next exciting stage of their journey. The CEO, Denise Baxter, was very transparent with me at interview about what was important to her in business, her expectations of others and how she ran her company. I admire her honesty, integrity and genuine care of others as a leader. She consistently demonstrates an unwavering commitment to “doing the right thing”, whatever the circumstances. Our personal values and work ethic are very similar. What was evident though, was that these unspoken company values, which had essentially been part of the fabric of Identify since its inception in 2019, were neither defined nor articulated.

    Entering a period of rapid expansion in September, the team doubled in size overnight. It was a key time for the business, with investment made in Marketing and client delivery support. Denise recognised the need to invest time and energy in defining the core values and agreeing how we integrate them into our processes and culture. This would serve as a strong foundation for this next stage of growth. With new team members on board, this was about making sure everyone was on the same page, and it’s a much easier exercise to do early in the company’s history and when the team is still small.

    Values in simple terms

    In a nutshell, company values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive your business – your company DNA. They serve as the guiding light that steers attitudes and behaviours, showing people how to act in the workplace (even when the boss isn’t around).

    I personally love Mahatma Gandhi’s articulation of the value of core values:

    "Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny."  Mahatma Gandhi

    Values drive success by:

    • Helping employees make the right decisions.
    • Bringing everyone together for a shared purpose aligned to the overriding business goals.
    • Positively impacting employee motivation and engagement.
    • Helping customers understand what a business stands for.
    • Helping to attract and retain top talent.
    • Helping to attract customers that share similar values.

     

    Developing our values

    We kicked off our values development process by involving the senior team in a brainstorming session. We wanted to provide the chance for them to reflect and contribute thoughtfully. They were asked to do some individual prep ahead of the session and start thinking about questions like: What do you personally value? What unspoken values have contributed to our success to date? What do successful employees at Identify share in common? What values should govern the way we interact with each other and with our clients and candidates?

    This way, we could tap into values that people already held and uncover core values that, as an organisation, we were already living and were unique to us. This would help avoid any aspirational but non-existing values that are not a true part of who we are and how we do things.

    When we came together and everyone shared their reflections and ideas, we had an open and honest conversation about our business strengths, challenges and USPs, including feedback received from customers to date. General themes quickly emerged and we uncovered and discussed any areas of disagreement.

    The outputs from this session were collated, grouped accordingly, and, from this, potential values were drafted and distributed. Any initial skepticism in the team turned to pride and a feeling of accomplishment as the process of uncovering, verbalising and celebrating who we are and what we stand for unfolded.

    We settled on a set of core values that we felt truly represented our business and our team:

    • Honesty

    • Excellence

    • Collaboration

    • Compassion

    • Adventure

    Head over to our Values page to read about these in more detail and see how we define them.

    Denise presented the values and definitions to the wider team, explaining the process we had gone through to uncover them, and asking for any feedback.

    Making our values "real"

    Understanding what values mean is critical to implementation. Next, we needed to agree how the values should be interpreted and applied in our everyday work, and how we would integrate them into our processes and culture. This is key and ensures values do not become fluffy “words on a wall” but are upheld by everyone in an organisation – from top leadership to junior members of the team. Everyone in the team becomes accountable for their decisions by asking a simple question: does this decision reflect our values?

    Here’s what we’ve done at Identify HR:

    • Created a service charter so we all know what excellent behaviours and standards looks like in practice. We have clearly defined non-negotiables on how we interact with our clients and candidates.
    • Put them on our website to create accountability. If we’re ever not demonstrating them in the way we interact ⁠— whether with our clients, with our candidates, or with each other — we can get called out for it.
    • Implemented peer-to-peer recognition to highlight living examples of our values.
    • Created values-based performance reviews for the team with 360 feedback.
    • Formalised a process of customer feedback to ensure we are continually improving, innovating and evolving our service offering.
    • Incorporated our values into our own recruitment process to ensure we grow our team based on values-fit.
    • Recognised that our values will evolve over time and have agreed to periodically review them as the business grows.
    • Committed to looking for further ways to integrate them into our practices and processes.

     

    Final thoughts...

    If you haven’t worked on core values yet, I hope that this post has convinced you to perhaps consider what your organisation’s values might be. Core values should reflect what you are really proud of – your convictions, your beliefs, what you’d be willing to put all your courage behind.

    Shining a light on why you do what you do makes decision-making easier across all areas of the business. With strongly held core values, every difficult choice can be held up to those values, and the “right” answer becomes so much clearer.

    We’re a young company with ambitious growth plans. We’ve defined our mission and purpose and established behaviours to support our company values. This sets a clear direction for us as we continue to grow the business and team, and commit to living our values every day, both in times of success as well as challenge.

    To find out more about how we can support your organisation in recruiting right-fit talent aligned with your values, contact us at Theteam@Identify-hr.com