Company Core Values – Why Set Them Up Even If You Think It’s a Waste of Time
CEO Peter Coppinger discusses how he and co-founder Daniel Mackey set Teamwork.com’s core values. Peter shares what he learned from the process and why he advocates it to all companies.
Growing and evolving as a company means your perspective changes too. For a long time, I dismissed things like written company values as corporate nothing-speak. They look good hanging on the wall, but what do they really accomplish? As our company has expanded, I’ve come to realize how important company values are as we share our vision for the company with employees and customers. About seven months ago, my co-founder Dan and I realized we already had company values, they just weren’t written in one place where we could refer to them anytime. So we decided to quit thinking about our values and get them on paper to unify our team and make sure everyone was on the same page. We locked ourselves away from distractions for 8 hours straight and outlined the type of company we want to be. We asked ourselves hard questions about what the companies we loved were getting right and what sort of values would align with our culture here. Some of you may be assembling a list of values along the way, and that’s fine! But Dan and I don’t work like that. We needed to shut out distractions and look at the whole picture at once. We emerged with these core values that convey what we believe about our company, our team and ourselves.. Let’s start with the basics, and then we’ll fill in the details about each point.
Our Company Values — The Outline
Software is Our Craft, We Never Stop Improving
We Move Fast & Stay Highly Productive
We Promote and Reward on Merit Alone
Only Good People Can Work Here
Everybody Thinks Like an Owner
We Embrace Openness by Default
We Stand for More than Money
We Strive to be an Amazing Place to Work
We Choose Positivity and Happiness
We Are Humble & Honest
We Work Smart
We Do the Right Thing
These values are front and center for our team. As you’ll see from the image below, they are literally painted on the walls here in Teamwork Campus One—reminding our team what we’re working toward each day.
Are we asking for perfection? Of course not! These values help lift us up when we’re struggling with a deadline or a tough project and help push us forward when we’re building something huge. One quick review of these and we all know why we’re showing up each day. Here’s a look inside our heads so you know our thoughts on each of these points.
Our Company Values — The Details
1. Software is Our Craft — We Never Stop Improving
We strive to be experts at building, supporting and selling software. We will never stop learning, measuring, and experimenting. We make the best software we can make.
We are open with the world about how we run our company, our values, our systems, and our techniques.
We will strive to turn the company into a well-oiled, highly productive machine that works smarter than our competition.
We are never complacent. We will not allow our competitors to out-software us.
2. We Move Fast & Stay Highly Productive
We are a highly productive team (not a family).
We strive to stay lean, have small teams, minimize bureaucracy, eliminate productivity hurdles, and keep our best developers as team-leaders (and not managers).
If the decision is reversible, we make it quickly in the best interest of the company and move on.
We want 40 really good productive hours of work a week. We do not want people to burn out.
3. We Promote and Reward on Merit Alone
Contribution to company goals is more valued than time served.
4. Only Good People Can Work Here
Dickheads, no matter how talented, will be fired.
We want people for whom it’s more than “just a job.” You can show it’s more than just a job by giving feedback, suggesting ideas, going the extra mile to impress a customer, sharing stuff you learned.
We only want people who continually improve and strive to be the best they can be to work here.
We want people who want to look back on their careers and be proud of what they achieved.
We want people who care about the people they work with.
We only want staff who really care about the customer and the software we build.
5. Everybody Thinks like an Owner
We choose what’s best for the company and customers in the long term.
We continually think about how we can improve the company and share ideas.
We act as representatives of the company and share responsibility for maintaining our reputation.
We all care about the company’s metrics and success.
6. We Embrace Openness by Default
We are open about plans, open about figures, open about failings, open about wins, open about hiring, open about engineering, open about sales.
7. We Stand for More than Money
We support initiatives that make the world a better place. From here on, 1% of company profits goes to good deeds.
We genuinely want to make the most useful software possible.
8. We Strive to be an Amazing Place to Work
Our onboarding will make new people feel special and privileged to work here.
We will keep improving the work environment and trying experiments to optimise happiness and productivity.
We will promote a healthy work/life balance.
We will strive to make work enjoyable and productive by deliberately and continually promoting autonomy, mastery and purpose.
We will make work fun wherever possible (internal docs can be fun, onboarding packaging, software easter eggs, quirky office design etc.)
We are quirky and proud of it.
9. We Choose Positivity and Happiness
We always approach things in a positive and optimistic way.
We never complain. We never criticise or condemn team members or customers. Let the other person save face, even if they are clearly wrong. Never argue over any written medium such as instant email, message or chat. That said, give honest feedback in a constructive way and don’t be afraid to share bad news.
We deliberately show genuine appreciation.
We will always be friendly, personable and responsive to customers (even when they’re rude). Our company should have a face – every tweet should be signed, every email friendly and personable.
We are suggestive instead of instructive and use phrases like “how about” instead of “you should.”
We all take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and could be wrong.
10. We Are Humble & Honest
Good ideas can come from anywhere. Take the ego out of it and choose the best solution for the long-term success of the company.
We are proud of our work and accomplishments but leave our egos at the door.
When discussing the company and what we have achieved, we are always humble and look to the future.
We are always honest.
11. We Work Smart
We single-task our way through the day.
We share code as much as possible.
We share processes between teams.
We prioritize and work on the right thing.
We clearly define goals and objectives, have one lead for every project, and finish what we start.
12. We Do the Right Thing
We correct mistakes even when nobody would notice.
If a customer doesn’t love our software, they get a full refund, no questions asked (*within 90 days).
We will always go the extra mile for customers – in user interface design, in thinking about their needs, in caring about their company and problems, in surprising and delighting them.
We give back via open source.
Why Values Matter
Core values are the DNA of your business—who you are, what you believe, and what you stand for.
The finer points of these values help us teach new team members about Teamwork’s company culture and let customers know what they can expect from us. More than anything, we want these ideals to be the foundation of a company that our whole team can look back on and proudly say, “We helped build that.”
Next Week’s Post
Next week, I’ll fill you in on the devastating results from our first employee survey. You’re probably wondering why would I publicly share terrible feedback, right? Well, it was a huge wake-up call for us, and if sharing the valuable lessons we’ve learned benefits others — then I’m going to do it!
Over to You..
Do you have tips on crafting company values or any values that you’re particularly proud of? We’re mentoring startups in our Teamwork Catalyst program and I’d love to share your insights with them, so please leave your comments below.