Office-meeting-group-of-people-thinking-creatively-featuredAnna Roe – Chief People Officer at TransferGo

In times of uncertainty, a business’ values come to the fore more than ever. For organisations to be successful, they need to have a set of values which are embodied by the employees – these values not only contribute in helping achieve a company’s goals and vision, but also help to differentiate from the competition and guide actions during turbulent periods.

However, once developed, these values shouldn’t remain static. Here, Anna Roe, Chief People Officer at TransferGo explores the process of building values, and how, once created, they must be ever evolving.

When you look at start-ups, their ‘values’ and corresponding frameworks say a lot about them as a company. These values are a common set of laws and rules that enables the business to say what they care about as an employer, and what they look for in their staff – in my opinion, a strong set of values is also critical for the success of a business.

Business values enable good decision making. I’ll use TransferGo as an example here – we are a fast-growth fintech specialising in money-transfer services for migrant workers who support their families abroad. Our values are focused around our customers, so if a decision is not having some impact on those migrant workers who rely on us – we immediately reassess, deprioritise and focus our efforts elsewhere. It’s a very simple way to inform the decision-making process and even helps to not only self-manage but manage others.

Building values and communicating them

Values start from the top. There’s no point wasting time creating them if they don’t reflect the values of the founders or the leadership team. If those in charge do not believe in the values, then the way the organisation is run will not be reflective of them. These values must hold meaning in your company’s actions and aren’t something you can forge.

The method in which businesses build their values will differ depending on the size of an organisation. It could be that the values existed in a founder before the company was even created. Or that the values were decided on by the leadership team in the early days. Something that I’ve found works well, is getting people together from different departments across a business and holding workshops to discuss what makes the company different and what is most important to employees and customers. You can then use the outcomes of these sessions to build values that embody the whole organisation.

Regardless of how values are built, the way you communicate them is key. Some businesses have them written on the office walls, or in their email signatures. One of my preferred ways of doing this is embedding them into the progression framework. Values are then regularly referred to in performance reviews and near enough every part of the employment journey. In order to help embed the values across various divisions and departments, the senior leadership team should also be communicating them as frequently as possible – that could be through a monthly email from the CEO on a selected value, or by rewarding employees for holding true to those values.

Recruiting for people who fit those values

When start-ups are expanding and looking to hire new joiners you must make sure that there is some common ground between the company’s, and the candidate’s, values. Take your core values and use them to create a variety of behavioural and situational questions for hiring managers to use during the interview process. This helps find people who will be the right culture fit for the organisation.

Having said that, on occasion personality and values can become blurred, and it’s important to not get the two mixed up – diversity is key – you do not want a business full of clones. Research has shown, especially in start-ups, that businesses with more diverse teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation.

Preventing stagnation

Ensuring your business is ever-evolving doesn’t necessarily mean that you need rewrite your values every year or so. In fact, in an ideal world you wouldn’t want, or need, to change them at all. If you do, it’s most likely due to a dramatic business change such as a change in leadership, or after going through a period of rapid growth. And this is no bad thing.

Having ever-evolving-values is more about checking in on whether your employees are still living and breathing those values and whether they’re still relevant. If employees feel like the values are no longer pertinent or that a company is not living by them, it doesn’t mean they need to be changed right away. By identifying the route of the problem, you can then figure out what the next steps will be to address them, in these situations decisions will hopefully be dictated by the company’s values –  during turbulent times are when values are your most important stress test.

For start-ups, values might be an afterthought, but this isn’t something that should be overlooked.  Building a strong framework for standards, with regular discussions around the relevancy of each value to the business is key to creating a working environment that helps lives and breathes the company beliefs.