As a business grows, teams change, goals change and often, so do the values. Yet creating new values can seem overwhelming: How do you know when it’s the right time to redo your values? And how do you find the right values for your team?
I joined Planes when we were a team of 7. We’re now a lovely group of 30 individuals. Exciting growth. But as we grew the values we had when I first joined didn't retain the Planes feel to them. Which was a clear sign that they needed to change.
A growing team also means a focus on progression. I'm big on making sure progression is impactful. To do this, a team need to know what the business celebrates and what they should be proud to showcase. If your values aren't tangible, that's another sign you should redo them.
So how do you go about creating values that feel true to a whole team? Read on to learn what steps to take to find your team's values, whether you’re a startup that’s growing up or a team that's gone from 12 to 32.
To create values which reflect what it means to work at a business, you need everyone’s input. Which I know sounds like a lot. Especially if your business is already on the larger side.
But getting everyone involved is actually really easy if you break it down into three simple steps:
👉 Survey (how very People of me)
First off, set up a survey for your team. We used Leapsome for this. Ask for stories about what makes your company, your company. Once you’ve got these stories (with just a bit of nudging needed) add them to a Figjam board and ask everyone to vote on what stories resonate with them the most.
I loved doing this part, it was so nice to see what mattered to the team and hear what made them feel valued.
Now get the team together to share the stories in a Workshop. I bought treats for the workshop as an extra incentive, who doesn’t like snacks?
The main aim is to find out how the stories make the team feel. Why? Because re-doing company values is all about prioritising behaviours over attributes. Values need to be interpretable, things people can give feedback on, and behaviours people can feel comfy modelling.
👉 Themes (and Puns)
Once you’ve got all up in the feels, group the findings into themes to help build your values. We chose themes like Freedom + Choice, Belonging + Community, Fulfilment + Purpose, Positive, Good Vibes, and Learning + Curiosity.
Now you’ve got your themes, try playing around with some puns. Whether you lean into the puns or not, it helps create values that are unique to a company. I found this was the team’s favourite part and it really helped us create values that felt right to Planes.
There’s no point in having values that a team doesn’t connect to. One way to help the team get comfy with, and visualise new values is to get them illustrated. Illustrating values adds an element of ‘human’ to them and more importantly, it makes them more than just a set of words.
I got pretty lucky when picking the illustrator for our new values. I was scanning LinkedIn and a designer friend (thank you, Anton!) had recommended Laura in a post. I immediately fell in love with Laura’s style. It felt very us, and very fun. We chatted to Laura about creating a ‘mascot’ for each value, and she couldn’t have done a better job. Big shout out to Laura, check her work out here.
So what’s the use of a value? And how do you actually make them work?
Values are a way to help people understand what is important to a business. The things that a business wants to nurture and grow. When I’m hiring I’m looking for value add and fit, instead of culture add or fit (which we all know isn’t the right way to grow a team). Values help people understand what businesses are looking for when hiring, in a very tangible way.
Values should also be used by teams regularly, think reviews, props, 1:1s and project retros. I’m Leapsome’s number one fan, so getting the values integrated into the tool was super fun. And it’s a great way to show how you can give feedback with the values.