One morning I was browsing my Facebook feed when a picture caught my eye. It was a picture of fluffy dice dangling from a car ceiling with a pretty Indonesian countryside setting on the background. That was not it, however: there were two of our company value pins batched onto the fluffy dice. Hell Yeah, I thought – if we get this close into our employees’ everyday lives with our set of company values, we must be doing something right.
Company Values – Outside In or Inside Out?
It is not uncommon that assumed expectations from the outside world dictate how companies formulate and reformulate their set of values. Customer focus, reliability, innovation – nothing wrong with these ideas but do they really reflect the values of our employees and what motivates them? I say they only scratch the surface by providing general guidelines that should be taken for granted – or have you ever heard of a company that wants to be non-customer focused, unreliable and not hungry for innovation? Buzzwords may look nice on the newly refreshed company website but do they provide any real value to the company and the employees who are expected to adopt them as part of their DNA?
Instead, companies should be brave enough to abandon this value jargon and take a look inside. Who are the people working here and what makes them tick?
By focusing on employees we start getting into the inner guts of the value business. Sure, some people may be motivated by providing a great customer experience. We, however, want to dig deeper, deeper into employees as people, to really find out what motivates their lives. This is the trick: to have values that not only reflect a way of working, or what motivates people at work, but to provide a source of personal pride and motivation, also called intrinsic motivation.
Challenge, Curiosity and Control
There are many sources of intrinsic motivation, but as an example, the ones we have tapped into are the three very powerful Cs: Challenge, Curiosity and Control. Our value #BeBrave means that we want to empower our people to constantly challenge themselves and the company. By #KeepLearning we want to give our people room to bravely try out new things – and make mistakes. #FeelFree is there to encourage everyone to let their wonderful selves and ideas shine, whilst giving them the control to work the way that best suits them.
From Adoption to Mindset
Outside-in values may bring in some half-hearted adoption. Inside-out values have the power to create a mindset, a mindset where people truly feel a part of something they can relate to, something they can truly be proud of. And pride is what makes people want to share their story with others, whether by word-of-mouth, in social media or on fluffy dice.
Some Ideas on How to Achieve This
- Make your people part of the value creation process. Ask them. Involve them. (We arranged a Culture Hunt Workshop to collect ideas and insights.)
- Integrate values all the way from job ads to interviews and from goal setting to recognition. Remember, the goal is to create a mindset, not a set of values.
- Make them shareable. Create fun visuals. Keep them simple. Play with them. (We love our icons and laptop stickers!)
#BeBrave #KeepLearning #FeelFree
The writer, Tuuli Suominen, is Head of People Operations at Tapp Commerce. Follow Tuuli on Twitter