At Tooploox we like to tailor solutions to our needs. That’s why when we decided to create a list of company values we feared that none of the existing popular approaches would be right for us.
One of the most popular practices is to create a list of values at the C-level, communicate these values to everyone in the company and trust that this list will help shape company culture. Although the vast majority of teams responsible for cultural strategy will tell you that the values are not only written on their walls, it remains difficult to impose values from the top down.
Meanwhile, we’ve built Tooploox as a company of self managing teams, so the common approach would have little to no practical effect on day-to-day work. Therefore, instead of simply listing values within an isolated team, we decided to discover it together. In order to achieve this we needed a process that would engage employees and address company culture. We agreed that the process should include input from the people and the founders. In this way we could ensure that the final result would include both strategic and employee perspectives.
We divided this process in respect to this goal and arranged our efforts as follows: to establish our Mission and Vision, to host workshops and interviews, and finally, to engage the founders in constructive feedback sessions.
Mission and vision
The basis for our mission and vision claim was created during a series of company wide workshops and by the work of the founders, who are responsible for building company strategy.
We partner with companies to build high impact teams and innovative products to solve meaningful real life problems.
To provide meaningful, world-class solutions for companies, by creating a work environment where knowledge sharing and application of emerging technologies are the foundations of success.
We treated these as our anchor and a foundation for the next steps.
Workshops & interviews
The goal of the Value Discovery workshop was simply to learn what was most important to our employees in the realm of their work. To get as wide a perspective as possible we put together across section of employees using characteristics such as tenure, team, physical location and gender. In this way we constructed a list of participants that we felt would best represent the company.
The flow of the workshop was as follows:
- As a first step, participants indicated which of the parts of Mission and Vision were the most important to them.
- Once we had identified what employees valued most, the next step was to come up with a list of desired behaviors relevant to each area. In this task we used support questions:
– How do we see ourselves?
– How might others see us?
– What kind of behaviors do we see?
– How would we like to be seen by others?
- The final part of the workshop was to group behaviors and name them. This was followed by a series of voting. Each person could vote for 4 values that were the most significant to them. And the overall top 5 made it to the final list of Tooploox values.
We wanted to ensure that this group is truly representative of the company, so we complemented our workshop with interviews with employees that worked remotely or just couldn’t join us that day. Those interviews were based on the workshop scenario and their results were included in the final list.
Here you can find our Value Discovery Workshop scenario as created by Dominika Dudek (Polish version):
The results were then brought to the Tooploox founders in order to gather their feedback and finalize the list. This was a very important stage – as when you discover employee values there is always the risk that they will not be compatible with the strategic vision of the company’s decision makers. Fortunately, this clash didn’t happen here. The reason for this lies in the fact that the Tooploox founders have been engaged in building company culture since it’s beginning. They are and always have been a part of it, even working in various projects just as regular team members. Nevertheless, their feedback was an important strategic moment for the formation of list and helped us to put our workshop results in proper order.
Finally, the results were in.
- Growth: We hire people that are ambitious and want to develop their skills. We’re looking for projects that give this opportunity and we build environments to help people grow. We become a key to our clients’ growth and success and in effect grow Tooploox with them.
- Relationship: We value relationships with our partners as well as relationships between people within Tooploox.
- Engagement: We are an organisation where employee activities are supported by empathy and trust. It’s a foundation of engagement.
- Professionalism: We are dedicated to do high-quality work for our partners and for internal purposes. We are detail oriented and reliable.
How do we use company values in every-day work?
Our goal was not just to have a list of words. We wanted to learn what matters most to the people who are the core of this company and to match them to Tooploox’s strategy. A great example of putting those values into practice is our recruitment and team fit assessment. Having a clear understanding of our values gives us a basis to hire people of a similar mindset.
Our values affect how we build our brand as an employer and as a business partner, which attracts people that share them. And finally, we’ve got a great starting point for updating internal company strategy to reflect areas that are crucial to improve workplace satisfaction.
The entire process gave us a lot of precious knowledge and ideas on how to improve Tooploox as an organisation. However, this is a process that is never finished. The company changes over time and, for this reason, Value Discovery sessions are held every year to map and reflect all changes. We live and work in a dynamic and ever changing environment and we aim always for our values and culture to reflect and accommodate those changes.