Talent Point's Gr8 Company Values!
Our last blog post gave an overview of some of our colleagues' worthy New Year's resolutions, but we also teased that Talent Point as a company is going through some "New Year, New You" style changes. In reality, these were launched internally a couple of months before Christmas but, apart from some subtle tweaks to social media, you may not have noticed that we've rolled out a whole new set of company values! Well, it's the start of a whole new year, so what better time to officially unveil them publicly and really begin to shout about the traits that drive every decision we make at Talent Point, from hiring to promotion!
But before we get into that, let's take it back a step and ask why you should even have company values? Plenty of articles have been written about their perceived ineffectiveness and how no one, not even high-level managers, can ever remember what they even are. Well, we'd argue that any lack of impact is only because most companies simply have values, rather than considering what their values actually are. In reality, a company's values should be central to both their identity and their core mission; their values should be the foundation for their company culture, and that really is important.
Don't believe me? Just look at the horrendous fallout that Uber is going through. Although a hugely successful "unicorn" company, Uber's toxic company culture and lack of directional values are consistently cited as compounding reasons for their current fall from grace. A positive company culture is incredibly important for the long-term viability of a company: it helps in creating a positive image within the market; it attracts top talent; and it provides stability and purpose to everything a company does. And company values drive culture so, as Neil Patel puts it:
When employees are passionate about the values and mission, they are dedicated to accomplishing the goal.
In short, there's a whole host of reasons why company values are worth getting right, but the big one is a simple one: they increase company unity. Every company will have a specific, overarching goal, and your values should reflect that and help guide people to make decisions that work towards that central aim. Finding people who agree with those values, then, means that you've found people who are also very likely to "get" your mission, and that saves both management and training time. (And yes, that does mean that your values should be a cornerstone of your hiring process!)
Now, if you're sitting there and wondering what your company's main mission is... well that's a whole other conversation that we will most definitely be returning to in the future. For now, just know that the two (values + mission) should always be intricately intertwined, because when you have well respected and strong values, they will hold your mission to account.
Creating your Cultural Cornerstone
So how do you even go about determining what a company's values should be? Well, the two ways you absolutely should not do it is to either pluck some nice sounding words out of Dictionary.com, or just take the CEO's personal values and run with them. If you're considering either route, please pause and just think through the implications. The first option is pretty pointless! If your company values could have been decided by sticking a bunch of adjectives to a wall and blindly throwing darts, then they lack any true meaning and will likely go completely ignored. On the flip side, if only one person in your organisation identifies with the values, if they're just projecting their personality onto the company, it's likely to be just seen as a PR stunt internally and fail to get any real buy-in from staff.
Having reviewed how not to do it, we have to say that there really isn't a "right way" for a company to come up with core values. A startup may be able to have a quick round-table discussion with every employee and settle on some unifying traits or hold a democratic vote, but that will clearly never work for a giant Fortune 500 organisation. Different strategies will suit different businesses, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some general rules of thumb.
- Consult with a wide cross-section of the company.
Gaining a broad range of input will help ensure that you create a clear picture of how all your staff see the business, and will give you an idea of what motivates them to come to work every day. It's unlikely that a Lead Developer focuses on the same goals as a Head of Product or internal Marketer would; just make sure not to overdo it! A couple of representatives from each department or team should be more than enough, and you can always ask to see who wants to be involved in the process first to garner the highest quality input.
- Pull from diverse voices.
It's similar to the point above, but make sure you don't end up only asking men, or only asking graduates. Hopefully your organisation contains a vibrant array of societal and cultural backgrounds, so be sure to keep these represented when determining core values. After all, adjectives and emotions can mean different things to different groups, so it's always best to involve diverse points of view early on.
- Ensure that your company values are genuinely attainable.
It can be tempting to make values broad, grandiose gestures that sound great on paper. Yes, every company wants to strive for perfection, but having "100% Perfect" as a core value is just not viable – people make mistakes! If staff are permanently "breaking" a value then it might as well not exist, and will devalue (see what we did there?) all of the others as well.
- Keep them simple.
Again, it can be tempting to come up with a value that no one else has, or swap out common company ideals for exotic synonyms. Words like "concinnity" (a skilful and harmonious arrangement of parts) and "eunoia" (beautiful thought) are poetic and may perfectly summarise what your company does, in an abstract, intellectual way, but they aren't useful values because no one uses them as words. They're quickly forgotten, hard to spell, and are more likely to become an office joke than a true company value.
- Make sure they actually matter.
This is the hardest one to pin down, but that probably makes it the most important. A company value needs to be as widely shared and agreed upon as possible, but it also needs to be useful to people. A value that is never broken, but also never used, shouldn't be a core defining characteristic of your business. It's great to want to have Customer Service, for example, as a core ideal, but if you only have a handful of customer-facing employees then most will never use it. It becomes less of a company value and more of a team value, so perhaps should be reconsidered.
So those our the general guidelines that can help you pick inspiring, well-rounded company values, but you might just find it tricky getting started and coming up with some ideas. We certainly went through quite a few rounds over the last three months! There are a lot of words out there which sound brilliant, but ultimately fail some of the criteria above, or just don't get much buy-in when suggested for feedback. They may not necessarily be wrong, but they just don't stick as central to the company's identity.
If you're stuck in this same rut, here's a really easy piece of advice that helped us out massively:
Ask each person in the focus group to come up with one colleague who shines out!
You know who we mean, the people who you think of immediately as being completely in line with the company. They may not be top of their respective teams, or the most broadly involved, and likely won't be the most vocal; they can appear anywhere from an intern up to a C-class role (and notably may not appear in either position – that's not a problem, it's just being honest). They're the people who you would describe as "just getting it", that always slot in, that get the job done.
Find those people and ask yourself: what do they have in common? What traits do they all possess, innately? What do they just do naturally that others don't? You might realise that they're all proactive, or that they're all very focused on self-improvement, or maybe they all display excellent problem solving skills. Whatever those commonalities are, they're a great starting point for company values, so write them into a list and start expanding on them and trying them out. That's exactly what we did, and it worked wonders!
Introducing Our New Values
We've had a look at why company values matter, as well as how we went about finding our own, but now comes the moment of truth! These are the eight company values that Talent Point have chosen to facilitate our central vision and serve as the bedrock of everything that we do. So, without any further ado, here they are:
- We are bold!
We have the confidence and determination to challenge mindsets and show resilience that inspires others to embrace change.
- We collaborate
We want what is best for each other, extending our instinctive trust and respect to everyone we meet, whilst honouring the trust we're given in return.
- We have absolute pride
We use our Products to achieve incredible results for customers, applicants, and colleagues that we can't help shouting about.
- We are transparent
Our entire service is built on visibility; we are empathetic, solving every hiring challenge by showing rather than telling.
- We use common sense
Our systems and ideas should always make life easier so, rather than being slaves to them, we apply them intelligently in countless unique situations.
- We embrace learning
We're breaking new ground, so we always seek out opportunities to challenge ourselves, deepen our knowledge, and conquer complex topics.
- We are proactive
Rather than waiting for orders, we look ahead and tackle fresh challenges with knowledge, innovation, and confidence.
- We are accountable
We own our personal performance.
As mentioned above, these have already been rolled out internally for a couple of months, and the reaction has been fantastic. We're embracing these values in everything we do, and that's a promise to our customers as much as it is to ourselves!
So that's our story, but what about your own? Is your company thinking of creating some core values, or perhaps refreshing a set of existing ones? If so, you'll hopefully have found this article useful, but we'd be the first to admit (#accountable) that it's barely scratching at the surface of why company values matter, as well as how you should go about defining them, rolling them out, and putting them into action.
That's why we're embarking on a new venture in 2019, putting together a much more detailed overview of the entire process, theory, and potential impact that adopting strong customer values can have on you, your company, and your brand appeal. If that sounds interesting then please stay in touch by filling out the form below, and you'll be the first to know about any related news or information!
Top illustration sourced and created with: Vecteezy