Corporate Culture: How Strong Core Values Helped us Build a Company Culture in Times of COVID
What Core Values are and why They Matter
In part 1 of this article series I described how we set up our vision of “Empowering athletes to become their best” and further defined the road we believed would get us there by adding the mission: “To provide a holistic training experience through a profound understanding of our customer needs, latest scientific insights and cutting-edge technology. Every day we push the boundaries further by creating a best-in-class individualized and humanlike service our customers trust.”
Another way of saying this is: We had now written down WHY we all wanted to create TRIQ (vision). And we knew WHAT we wanted to do to achieve it (mission). But let’s be real: Doing it was going to be hard. If we were going to get close to achieving our goals we’d have to really move in sync and act as a true unit. But to become a tight-knit group of individuals that successfully collaborates and makes each other better in order to reach for the stars you need more. Values describe HOW we want to get there. Values answer who you want to work with. They can shape the essence of a company’s identity. Knowing and sharing a set of values directly supports decision processes, recruiting as well as marketing and communication. Agreeing on them sets the tone and can inspire the team, new employees and customers alike.
Some Slides and Table Football Won’t Do
Companies don’t have the luxury of waiting a few decades for a positive culture to develop. If you think it will happen by setting up a football table and a refrigerator with caffeinated drinks, good luck. In order to come up with actual pillars of a corporate culture that your people identify with can—in my experience—only happen if team members open up, feel and express something common in order to let them see how their work is contributing to a spirit that’s larger than themselves. A presentation created by a few decision makers without a genuine process that truly involves the group is doomed to fall short.
Agreeing on Core Values During a Pandemic Without Actually Being Together
The best thing you can aim for is values that come from within the group and are “natural” values which are already lived by the team. However, doing this as early as possible is key. If you miss the right time you can lose momentum and uncertainty can rise. However, if you do it early enough you can then actually build the team based on the values. So how do you achieve something so personal and important while everyone is scattered across their home offices?
In our successful experience at TRIQ it definitely took effort from everyone and a readiness to really use the right tools together. As we did for the vision and mission before, we started with small tasks we worked on in small group workshops via video conferences to make sure each individual had enough room to be heard and contribute their perspective. We also used tools such as Trello to structure the process and always have a feeling of progression and achievement as we would with any other task that might be less abstract than values. We brainstormed and gathered ideas in the small groups and then met altogether once everyone had already formulated their ideas further.
To really get to the essence of the company’s identity that was largely existing already it was important to determine what made our internal collaboration go and at the same time consider what we wanted people from an outside perspective see us stand for. Once everyone had determined this in the smaller group it was much easier to argue for and discuss personal opinions in the larger group. It enabled us to carefully consider each word and value, discuss them and finally agree on them together without getting lost in arguments or endless options. We started focussed and it allowed us to finish focussed as well.
Long Story Short: Here are the Results
Our core values are....
Integrity & Honesty
We walk the talk. We act and communicate openly, without politics.
We trust and support each other to work together towards a common goal, in good and bad times.
The actions we take lead to an enduring success for our athletes, the company and us individually.
The quality that makes you take bold actions and continue to try to do something even when it is difficult.
We all take accountability of the whole company, product and our own domain.
Looking at these you might think “yeah, those are easy, of course I agree”. But reducing it down to these five was actually the hard part. And: They really are very close to what’s most important to each member of the team. They are something like our shared personality. Now we just have to apply, revisit and translate them to everything we do. What does this mean in terms of coding, advertising and app tonality? That’s what the third part of this series will be about.