Here at Solita, we often receive feedback about our values being strongly present in our day-to-day work, and having a positive effect on our operations. This type of feedback is provided by new employees in particular. We have hired over 170 people in 2017, and the growth continues. Newcomers are excellent indicators, as they see the workplace from an outsider’s perspective – from an objective viewpoint.
They often tell us that they had a strong perception of our values and culture even before their first day here. After a few weeks, they often find that our values are even more strongly present in our daily work than they thought: they are pleasantly surprised. For many of them, Solita is the first workplace where the company’s values are true and have actual significance. This is excellent for us, but the feedback also indicates that, in many workplaces, values are still just words. If the values are never implemented, you have to wonder how they were created in the first place. Did the management team have a meeting in a nice villa in Lapland, sipping hot mint chocolate? Did they eventually publish the values as a bulleted list on the intranet? Perhaps they even had value-themed posters and mouse pads made.
Here at Solita, our starting point is that each employee already has values. These values are very personal. To ensure that our values are more than just words, we define our company values as the sum of our personal values. We wanted to identify principles that our team could stand behind.
Instead of finding values that sound good and trendy, the key aspect is to determine values that are relevant and meaningful for the members of the community.
We interviewed a large group of our employees few years ago. The main purpose was to find out what each individual thought about Solita. We discovered that, for employees, the most important thing is to care about their customers, work and colleagues. They also liked the laid-back people and atmosphere – you can just be yourself and not worry about making the right impression, whatever that may be. To identify drivers of positive change and development, we also asked how we could make our community even cooler. Our people hoped that we would express our opinions more boldly. They also wanted to do things that are not expected of us – to exceed expectations. They wanted to see an even more passionate approach.
The values that our employees are ready to stand behind include caring, a laid-back attitude, courage and passion. Their personal values became our company values.
It is not enough that a company has relevant and meaningful values. It also needs to be managed in line with its values.
The values become stronger when choices and actions are based on them. The world of business focuses on results. Performance is monitored and discussed. It is important to achieve good results. However, in a value-driven company, the way in which results are achieved is even more important than the actual results. A major deal is not a good result if it involved elbowing competitors aside instead of taking a more laid-back approach: doing your best and letting the results unfold as they may. A timely system delivery is not entirely successful if people have needed to put in unreasonably long hours, meaning that they have not been cared about.
It is often said that only the results matter in business – that you are not scored for style or artistic impression. This way of thinking conflicts with value-driven culture. It prevents values from ever becoming part of day-to-day operations. Instead, the values will never develop beyond bulleted lists, posters or mouse pads.
Even the best results are worthless if they were achieved by questionable means.
Style matters in our operations: recruitment, salaries, management, communication, positive feedback, and so on. Results are important for us, but style is even more important. This is the difference between performance-oriented and value-driven culture.