When your business is growing, the number of staff is increasing and operations and core business models figured out, it is time to focus on spirit, cohesion and values among people. Feeling is important in a growth company.
We had just perfect values before, very professional and valid with every perspective. But no one actually knew them, and somehow, they did not feel right anymore. I don’t know how they were chosen at the time, probably family-based entrepreneurs and a handful of staff wrote them down just because all other companies had theirs on their web sites. There is nothing wrong with that, I am sure those values reflected business needs and those people and their actions at the time. New hires were mainly picked out from the owner’s network and naturally qualified with mutual values too. So, there is no problem at all.
However, several years later, we were at the point that the staff headcount was 50 and something. You could feel the lack of values and mistrust towards the words on our web site. They were not real anymore, not guiding our daily activities. It was time to do something about it! Let’s do it now. Let’s make it in a fun way!
A kick-off was held in August and everyone was invited. In eight groups we pointed out the list of important values we cannot live without. Yes, we created a chaos of more than 40 values and explanations what they mean. Prioritization phase #1, was to pick one important value per group and perform it on the stage. We saw amazing, inspiring and hilarious performances, which made those few values alive, in a funny but for sure a memorable way. What a great BeneSpirit, great laughter and feeling we had that day and after.
Prioritization phase #2, was to comment and vote for the most important ones. We had them on the kitchen wall, in Teams channel, in team meetings, and other BeneEvents. What do they mean? Why is each value so important for us? What good comes out of each value? Values got more focus and meaning, more mutual understanding about the meaning of each word and sentence how we described them. Gradually they started to feel like BeneValues. And feeling is important in a growth company.
Finally, it was time for the management team to have their own workshop to fine tune the sentences and crystallize the values to themselves. Graphic designer gave nice outfit and BeneValues were ready to be launched in the 2020 Kick-off event in January. No, it was not a power point presentation how they were launched. We had eight groups again, made bedtime stories, rap songs, soap opera, stand up and drama out of our new BeneValues. Exiting, a bit scary, challenging but definitely so much fun!
Happy end? No, not just yet. The first year is crucial. Was it just a nice exercise or did we create something precious that is going to drive us to the next level as a growth company? Was this worth it? Are our BeneValues helping us in everyday decision making, building co-operation, helping us when doing business with other companies? Is this helping us when recruiting and onboarding new hires?
We easily think that the implementation phase follows the definition phase. Our implementing phase started already in August, when we first sat down in groups and started from scratch. On that moment we started to build our understanding, which values are important to us, and which are not. We all had an opportunity to say our opinions and give our ideas and feelings out.
What are we going to do next to ensure happy ending? We have our Values on an info screen, in wall posters, monthly we have a competition of great value actions and we’ll paint them on our new office walls later this spring. We want to make sure, that everyone can see them all over the place and in the social media. We give credit for value-based behavior and actions. Our leaders lead by example. We know we have succeeded, when you come and visit our premises and you can feel them as soon as you step in. And feeling is important in the growth company.
My key findings:
- Give people plenty of time to process their values.
- Write down the timeline and action points for the process so that everyone can see where we stand and that we are getting there, step by step.
- Believe in the process and bear with occasional uncertainty and chaos.
- Trust that your staff knows best what matters.
- By engaging people, the implementation comes naturally.
- Have fun!😊