Core Values – My Influences

At work, we’re working on figuring out what our values are and who we aspire to be. It’s a critical project for any company (I think) because your values should drive everything from hiring/firing to recognition and promotions. They should be so engrained in everything that you do that people always know the right behavior or decision to make, based on what you believe in as a company. Once we have our values, we can start to build out performance management, recognition, events, etc.

Because I have the pleasure of being one of the executive team sponsors of the project, I’ve been immersing myself in all things culture and values. I get myself pumped up. I share with others. I geek out. There are a lot of companies identifying and leveraging their values in a very effective way to differentiate themselves (and their talent) from the pack. Here are a couple companies that have inspired me:

Netflix: This company took culture and values to the mainstream with the release of their culture deck. Not only did they share out their values and illustrate with examples, they talk about their culture so openly and honestly, knowing that it’s not the right fit for everyone. They flat out share that average players will get terminated with a generous severance package to hammer home just how important being exceptional is to them. My favorite example is “picking up the trash” … there’s really no better way to encapsulate a set of behaviors and attitudes you want than with that example. If I can help produce something anywhere close to as articulate as this deck, I’ll have a drop-the-mic moment and feel like I’ve done something special.

Amazon: Their Leadership Principles make their expectations crystal clear. I love calling out a bias for action and frugality. One may assume a company as large and successful as Amazon wouldn’t see either as a filter through which decisions should be made, but it is an integral part of their DNA. When you look at all of their principles, you can start to see how they’ve grown and innovated in the ways that they have. Their “think big” and “Customer obsession” also start to shed some light on how they’ve taken on so many different markets and innovated in ways that have transformed the expectations of customers around the world when dealing with online retailers. Zappos is really high on my list too, but I can’t call out two Amazon companies without feeling like I’ve stacked the deck!

Valve: When I first started at Buildium, one of the co-founders sent me Valve’s handbook. “Maybe we can do something like this?” Yeah, maybe Dimitris! They don’t call out their values as explicitly as others, but if you read through their handbook, you can tell what matters most to them and why they think it gives them an advantage in the market. My favorite part of the handbook is the end, when they are blunt about what they don’t do well. I think every company would be wise to take a look in the mirror and acknowledge what they don’t do well.

BambooHR: Anyone who works with me or talks shop with me knows how much I idolize this company. I have put two companies on their platform because it’s just so damned useful and intuitive, but I’ve always admired their culture and ability to push out useful product updates at a blistering pace. The Bamboo Way is clearly articulated and I’ve never had an interaction with their team that seemed at odds with what they say is important. This company is going somewhere and it seems like the people are happy to be driving the ride in part because of their values-oriented culture.

Atlassian: I’ll end with a simple one. They have a “mere” five values, but articulate them quite well and give their team context as to why they matter.

How does your company do with core values?

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