How we refreshed our company values
When I was interviewing with Inscribe last summer, I asked CEO and co-founder Ronan Burke what he thought about company values and their importance.
He quickly pulled up a draft of the values on his screen. “Where do I sign?!” I joked.
I was shocked — and yet really impressed — that values were already top-of-mind for a company of this size and stage. The knowledge that even the company’s founders cared and understood the importance of shared values assured me that this was a team I wanted to work with.
A principle by any other name
Value sets are foundational building blocks for creating and growing robust, positive company cultures.
If I step into the same room (or virtual room, these days) as my colleagues, we’re coming in with a shared understanding and already have common ground with each other. We’re able to have more productive collaboration and meaningful conversations.
The application of this goes beyond our working relationships; at a fundamental level, values are principles that guide our actions and decisions. They influence our approach to working with customers, building our team, creating our product, and much more.
Values keep us aligned.
Fast forward to six months in at Inscribe: Fully ramped, I took a look at our values and asked, “Do these truly represent who we are today? Will these values actually help make the best decisions moving forward?”
Our initial values were solid, but there was something missing. Our team was growing, and what we had in place didn’t quite represent everyone.
We knew we needed to breathe new life into our values; to capture the unique DNA of our team in an organic (who we are today), yet aspirational (who we want to be), way.
Easy, right? So, off we went to take on this challenge of refreshing our values.
Behind the curtain of our values refresh
Going into this journey, we knew that this couldn’t be driven solely by just the founders or myself; we wanted each team member’s voice to be heard. So we took a bottoms-up and top-down global approach.
We had built an incredible team, and we wanted to uncover and codify what had enabled us to do so.
But first, we needed to capture each Inscriber’s thoughts. Having our team involved in the process would also make adoption of the new values more seamless since it created participation, buy-in, and familiarity already.
(A quick note here is that we’re still a small team and can acknowledge individual perspectives. For larger organizations, I recommend listening to as many team members as possible — focus groups can come in handy.)
So we ran a values workshop with the entire team at our annual company offsite and held a follow-up session during one of our All Hands meetings. This allowed us to uncover and document all of the values that were important to our team members (and there were many). We then grouped the values by common themes and refined them with our founders.
While the approach we took seems fairly straightforward, our “A-ha!” moment happened when we decided to use Insights Discovery as an inspirational framework to shape our values.
Have you ever heard of the color energies? Cool blue, fiery red, earth green, and sunshine yellow? Well, Insights Discovery is a psychometric tool based on the psychology of Carl Jung that’s used to help team members understand their own and others’ work preferences and communication styles. Ultimately, the goal is to have more effective working relationships.
We had hosted an Insights session with the team during that very same company offsite and saw how much this resonated with everyone. It’s now a common language among our team.
Our goal was to make Inscribe’s company values appeal to everyone’s style(s) and help push each other in areas we haven’t flexed in before. For example: I unconsciously, naturally lead with “earth green” energy (i.e., I take time to reflect and understand), but I aspire to stretch myself and embody “fiery red” energy in certain situations (i.e., I want to make bold, winning decisions). Adapting the Insights framework enabled us to create an inclusive set of four values that was unique, organic, and aspirational.
So we aligned each of our company values with an Insights color. For example, our new value, “We’re here to win,” corresponded really well with the strengths of people predominantly in the “fiery red” Insights category. (But you’ll have to keep reading to see which other values emerged!)
After this process, our refreshed values were finalized. I felt like Steph Curry making the winning 3-point shot at the final buzzer. We did it.
Inscribe’s company values unveiled
It’s time! See below for our reinvigorated company values …
And here are some examples from our team members of these values in action.
How we’ll infuse these values into our culture
Beyond visually appealing posters in the office and fun, custom Slack emojis, it’s now time to weave our values into everything we do at Inscribe. Every decision we make, every risk we take, every trade-off we consider comes down to our values.
From a People Team standpoint, these values will influence how we hire, how we provide feedback, how we reward our employees, and more. We’ll coach our interview panel on running focused interview sessions on our values. We’ll tie our feedback to values being embodied. We’ll assess values during performance reviews.
While I can go on about the details of each initiative, I’d simply like to note that our values are more than words. Our team members (and larger community) will constantly be reminded of our four values from their very first interaction with us.
If there’s one key takeaway from this entire process, it’s that the most powerful company values don’t need to sound like a Hallmark card. They just need to be authentic.