Our Culture and Values The influence of firm culture is far deeper and impactful than most realize. Culture enables people to succeed and to grow both professionally and personally. We can take this idea a step further. Our culture focuses on a set of employee-centric values that fosters inclusion, trust, and respect. These values include responsibility, curiosity, authenticity, and collaboration.
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Take, for example, a typo in this article. While it might be tempting to deflect blame from me, the CEO, to the copyeditor for not picking up my mistake, that behavior is not consistent with our values. Rather, I need to take responsibility for my role in the error as does the copyeditor AND everyone else who read the drafts and did not catch the error.
Rising above blame and finger-pointing allows us to devote our attention and energy to the lessons learned and new perspectives gained. These experiences foster individual growth as well as benefit the firm by way of better decisions, more innovative ideas, and improved performance. Conjuring the mirror image of each value i.
- The Winning Formula: Mission + Culture + Team?
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For example, the anti-value of responsibility encompasses blaming ourselves and others, making excuses, justifying shortcomings, and declining to take initiative; each behavior runs counter to taking responsibility. The primary anti-value of curiosity is a commitment to being right. When we seek approval and ignore constructive feedback, we are reinforcing our confirmation bias and inadvertently strengthening our blind spots.
The anti-value of authenticity encompasses the behaviors of withholding thoughts and feelings, seeking to manipulate, and avoiding vulnerability. Each can pull us away from the positive value of authenticity. Withholding often turns into toxic gossip when we avoid direct conversation and bypass by venting to others.
Lastly, the anti-value of collaboration expresses itself when people are mired in a compete-to-win zero-sum world, do not trust their team members, seek full credit for successes, or believe their contributions are not needed or appreciated by others. Putting Our Aspirations into Practice Our set of core values naturally lends itself to creating an inclusive environment. Each of our values—curiosity, responsibility, authenticity, and collaboration—primes us to welcome dissenting ideas and inspires each of us to contribute to the team, believing that our collective intelligence is higher than the intelligence of any single individual.
Yet, achieving the desired benefits of embracing our values is not automatic. Our culture and values are aspirational, and they require regular practice by all and vigorous commitment from the leadership team. For starters, our collaborative, team-oriented approach is not always easy to manage and at times can be perceived as awkward for the group. It takes time to solicit and process dissenting feedback, and it can be very uncomfortable letting go of prior opinions in the midst of group decision making—particularly when the conversation is diverging from our comfort zone or our preferred outcome which happens, by definition, when cognitive diversity is present and respected.
Our commitment to the value of collaboration goes beyond a desire to create a pleasant environment; we genuinely believe collaboration is critical to making better decisions. Once a decision is made, we all commit to support the decision, believing in the power of the process. In fact, the very process of true collaboration often leads to a solution that is adverse to the initial preferences of the decision makers. Precisely because of these doubt-triggering moments, we emphasize the value of collaboration and of trust in our team and the process.
Merely following the leader can be much easier, less stressful, and less time consuming.
But for critical decisions with far-reaching consequences, we are willing to accept the short-term discomfort and relinquish the pursuit of speed for the long-term prospect of the superior outcomes which accompany high collective—intelligence approaches. Second, we recognize that people are different, and not everyone is willing to commit to living our values. We believe it is much easier to maintain a healthy culture and keep our best employees when we hire people who are comfortable with our values.
One way we assess culture fit is our practice of requiring all candidates to interview with our Culture Committee—a diverse group of employees from all levels of the company who are trained in behavioral descriptive interview technique. Whereas the display of anti-values in the interview process does not disqualify a candidate, it certainly raises a red flag that the hiring manager is expected to assess in advance of an offer.
Finally, our values are aspirational. That means none of us has mastered the ideal behaviors, nor do we think we ever will. Human nature is powerful, and often our first reaction to candid constructive feedback or disagreement is more representative of our anti-values than of our values. Regardless of our best intentions, drama happens.
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In the moment, it may not be easy to resolve the issue at hand. To deal with this eventuality, we have created a tool to guide us in constructively moving forward: We ask ourselves the following questions, which are designed to help us reflect on our motivations and shift our mindset back toward our aspirational values.
I must admit, it is not always easy to shift back to the desired mindset, but time and respect for my colleagues helps a lot in these situations. We partner with you throughout our engagement, structuring our teams to complement yours. Our primary objective is to build capabilities within your teams, continually transferring our knowledge. We marry disruptive technology with process excellence to move your business ahead of the curve. We give businesses a competitive advantage.
The benefits are proven and robust.
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Give people the green light to disagree with you, with each other and with your vision and purpose. Be sure to invest and pursue the success and development of your team. Sometimes this may mean letting your star team player leave your company. Starting a business is one of the most challenging and demanding things a person can do in life.
The Winning Formula: Mission + Culture + Team
Between securing funding, pitching new business and navigating through an established competitive landscape, most entrepreneurs have little time or energy to think about creating a great place to work. But you should. Case study after case study has proven that successful startups are those with an engaged and driven workforce. Considering the dreary statistics of success rates of startups, the odds are truly stacked against you.
So, why not go the extra mile to be the exception to the rule? Entrepreneur Media, Inc. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site both directly and through our partners. The table below describes in more detail the data being collected.
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