Core Values to Drive Success
In 2013, I visited the headquarters of Zappos and learned about the impact of core values on company culture. None of the firms I had worked at previously had written core values. When I read their core values after my first visit, I was so impressed I brought my whole team at the time back to Las Vegas (see the photo of us above). Over the years we have developed a list of The Campaign Workshop’s core values that align both with the company culture we want to foster and the staff members we want to attract.
When we recently moved into our new office, we designed prints of each value and placed them front and center on our kitchen wall. Still, just because you write down the principals you want to run your business by does not guarantee you live them day to day. In addition to distributing our core values to our team and displaying them on the wall, we also set aside time during our annual company retreat to talk through them and how they apply to every aspect of our business. This gives our team members a chance to weigh in on how effectively we embody these ideals and where there is room for improvement.
The process of creating our core values entailed working as a team, but as the firm’s founder I had to drive the process. I had to keep in mind that while businesses are not democracies, buy-in is important. If you can’t get your team to buy in to the culture you want to create, you will not succeed. Through my years of experience, I learned the hard way that a lack of clarity on my expectations can lead to a failure to yield results. By getting input from the people I work with, I can make sure our values are inclusive to all of my staff. Their input also helps me see where I can be more direct in my expectations and goals for them and the company as a whole.
Core values are the rudder for your ship. As our business grows (we started with one employee in 2009 and now have 13 employees), these values have become more and more important. They help new staff understand how they are expected to treat their team members and vice versa. We also use these principals to guide who we take on as clients and what vendors we work with.
Below are our core values as of 2019:
1. Embrace change: Be open to change. Change is a constant in politics and we need our team to understand this so we can be nimble to an ever-shifting landscape.
2. Stay curious: Test, ask, and explore. In our world, if we are not consistently learning, we are not serving our employees or clients.
3. Keep learning: Learn from “mistakes,” instead of passing blame along. Our company has a blame-free culture. Instead of identifying who made each decision and when, we focus on finding ways to prevent issues from arising in the future. Think of this as accountability vs. blame. We work to learn from mistakes and hold the whole team accountable so we can continue to grow and adjust our processes when we need to.
4. Communicate: Especially when it is hard to. Having hard conversations are by definition difficult, but that is also why they are important. Points of conflict are where we most need to be able to have a respectful exchange so we can do right by our company, staff members, and clients.
5. HHS: Be hungry, humble and smart, and hire those who are. Having clarity around the kind of employee traits we want has been very beneficial to the team. Rather than looking to hire people who have a specific pedigree, we want to bring people onto our team who have the mindset we need to accomplish our work and cultural goals.
6. Work with intent: Be intentional with your time, your coworkers time, and your client’s time. In our world a lot of time can be wasted on process and wheel spinning. We are committed to reducing this lost time as much as we can.
7. Be on the team: Together, we make a better workplace and a better product. In order to be a winning team we need to take care of each other and ourselves. Asking for and offering each other help makes us more efficient and reduces frustration.
8. Pay it forward: Help folks who are starting out. Be a mensch. Heal the world. We want to make the world a better place, and we need to start by helping the folks we meet along the way.
My experience has shown me that by being intentional with our core values, we can build the culture we want for ourselves and the people we work with. At the end of the day, I want to make everyone I work with feel supported and able to adapt and evolve in their work. It may help your organization be more effective too. Once your organization has identified what core values represent the workplace you want to create, check out our top campaign tools to help you on your business journey.