Validating our Values

Last month I wrote about the importance of connecting the dancefloor (day to day) with the balcony (strategic longer term). A foundational piece to this is the team and their values. But values are nothing if they are static and stale. Read on.

TL;DR

  • Company values aren't just words on a poster, they are demonstrated through the behaviours and culture of the team
  • Team members should be invested in the values, each resonating with them personally, irrespective of their tenure in the company
  • Revisit company values regularly. Create an interactive approach, activities to demonstrate and validate the values
  • Don't be afraid to call out those values which are outdated and evolve them as a team

Pragmateam is nearly 4 years old. This is when we "created" our values. 

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I'm proud of our values. I think they have served us well. We are able to effortlessly talk to them when meeting potential clients, demonstrate them when working with our existing clients and validate them when chatting with candidates during recruitment.

But we’ve been mindful that other than myself and Juliano, no one else from the team was involved in their creation. Each team member inherited our values when joining Pragmateam.

Inspired by the recent NextGen in Business conference, where a key theme throughout the day was that values are only authentic if they are evident in our behaviours, we decided to invest last week’s learning lunch purely to focus on what the Pragmateam values mean to us.

Rather than a dry conversation, we choose to run the session with a series of activies. Here is a quick rundown of how we spent the two hours:

  1. Break into 5 groups (~3 people per group)
  2. Each group was assigned one of the five Pragmateam values
  3. In breakout group, discuss the value: What does an anti-behaviour of the value look like? What does a supporting behaviour look like?
  4. Regroup, shareback, each group acting out their anti-behaviour and supporting behaviour. 
  5. Back in breakout groups, discuss and then shareback: Which of the 5 values resinates the most, which value could we never live without? Which of the 5 values resinates the least, which value could we live without?

Outcome

A key outcome of the session was to ensure that all team members (irrespective of their tenure) were aligned and in agreement of the behaviours inherently associated to each value.

As well as being fun and entertaining, when each group acted out their interpretation of the behaviours in step 3 above, it triggered lots of healthy conversation on the finer details of the values and the relationships between each. This is particularly evident when thinking about the interplays of "pragmatic" being enabled through "empathy" and the underlying need to "be agile" over "doing agile".

Discussing which value resinated the most and least, allowed the team to identify the outliers, and validate whether they are infact still relevant to us as an organisation. This is particularly topical given we have evolved so much over the 4 years, our service offering is far more now than when we set out in 2014.

Next Steps

We aren't done yet. The conversation throughout the session was rich, and could have gone for much longer. So, in 2 weeks at our next learning lunch we will double click into the value which the team felt resonated with them the least and discuss alternatives. We will then capture our revised Pragmateam values. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, what are your company values? How does your behaviour relate to them on a daily basis? How do you continue to evolve the company values as the company evolves? How do you onboard new team mates into an existing culture and set of values?


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