In the tech startup world, the value of your company matters. For our Founder and CEO Brent Pearson, the ultimate financial value of the company is a result of a process that starts with the cultural values that form the bedrock of the business.
I know of some large companies that have paid consultants to tell them what their values are, which seems strange to me. You can’t retrofit values into an organisation - they’ve been part of the business since it started, whether you took the time to define them or not.
My personal view is that when you’re coming up with a concept for a company, values can be the difference between a success story or being just another bit player in a crowded market.
At Enboarder our manager engagement is sitting at 92% and our current eNPS score is 96. Most of our employees will tell you they joined over another job offer because of culture, and ultimately stayed for the same. I’m proud to have such a high performing team who really believe in our product and are so committed to our global customers, who are some of the best employers in the world.
Company values = shareholder value
The reference point I like to use for this is the Balance Scorecard, developed by Dr Robert Kaplan and Dr David Norton from Harvard University, which lays out a model for measuring business performance and success using a balanced set of measures.
Ultimately a company is judged by the shareholder value it creates, but if you only measure that by the financials then you’re limiting the measurement and it’s always going to be a backwards-looking approach.
You should create measures that look forward. In the Balanced Scorecard model, the foundation layer of a business is people (or ‘organizational capacity’ according to Kaplan & Norton), moving up to the product/internal processes layer, then the customer layer, and the last and top layer being financials - the measure of all these layers deliver shareholder value.
If you have the right people and the right values, you have the foundation of success for your business.
When I started Enboarder the first thing I was looking for was a value proposition, and once I had that I immediately switched my focus on to people.
I came up with Enboarder’s values simply by starting with what was important to me. I wanted to capture the essence of the type of company I wanted to build.
Our values are:
- Team Play - we play together as a team and we have fun doing it. Everyone pitches in, you don’t hear ‘that’s not my job’, and we’re creating a place where people feel safe to ask questions. We’re a fast-growing startup and everyone is busy, but if anyone needs help they only have to ask. It’s about being open to jumping in to things that might not be your core job and embracing being outside your comfort zone.
- Keep it Real - we champion transparency and openness, everyone is kept in the loop as to what’s happening with the business, including our financial position. We don’t beat around the bush, whether it’s at our weekly stand up or at a customer meeting.
- Never Settle - we avoid the dangers of complacency. We have a great product but I’ve seen companies who don’t adapt and then they die. This keeps us hungry and aiming high. We reward bravery over perfection, and encourage people to aim high and get outside their comfort zones.
- Love It - we spend so much time at work and I want Enboarder to be a place where people come to work and genuinely enjoy being here. Our team enjoy working together and really care about the product - they are playing a role in something really meaningful.
- Customers Rule - our product was developed and guided by our customers. We listened to them at the beginning and we listen to them now. Our customers might not have all the answers but they know what their pain points are. We don’t have a customer service team, but we have an amazing Customer Success team! We believe in going the extra mile, always.
Bringing our values to life
Our internal Reward & Recognition program is aligned directly to our values. This helps make sure that they stay present in our vocabulary, and when people do something great we acknowledge them through the context of one or more of our values. The team use Slack to call each other out publically for demonstrating our values. We also make sure that we’re celebrating, and learning from, our failures and we actively highlight our biggest learning each quarter.
All our employees are equal shareholders in the business - they are actively invested in our success.
We use Crewmojo to look after our performance management, and it allows us to link the process directly to our values. We make the values front and centre at team-building events, including company offsites. I am present in the interview process for all new hires, and my role in that process is to ensure a values and culture fit.
I’m always looking for opportunities to call out behaviours and great examples of the values being demonstrated, and I think that commitment is key to ensuring that they remain at our core.