For many companies, developing a set of ‘values’ or ‘culture’ is just a part of the ‘to do list’. Simply something they are told they need in order to be successful, or an unrealistic set of ideals that no-one really owns. Let me start by saying that if you are ‘told to do it’, via the latest blog, book or consultant, that’s not a good start! If it doesn’t come naturally to want to share your values with your team, then you are going to have trouble.
DOES YOUR TEAM REFLECT YOUR COMPANY VALUES?
We read over and over that culture can make or break a company, so many scrounge for a set of values that seem like a good moral starting point. However, organisations that are reinventing the marketplace and moving forward in leaps and bounds, have a set of values that are embodied in the owners and foundational members.
At Switch, our core values are not a test run to the real thing, or a stand-in until we find something better. We have worked very hard to articulate the values (below) that have been part of our journey since long before Switch Telecom started, and they have formed our corporate DNA, or ‘Switchy’, as you may hear us call it.
OUR CORE VALUES
“THE COMPANY EXISTS TO SERVE ITS CUSTOMERS, EMPLOYEES AND OWNERS”
“WE DELIVER ON OUR COMMITMENTS TO EACH OTHER”
“WE ADD VALUE TO OUR CLIENTS BY IMPLEMENTING SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS”
“WE HAVE A WIN-WIN ATTITUDE”
“WE LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES AND WE DON’T REPEAT THEM”
“WE WORK HARD FOR A FAIR REWARD”
“WE HAVE FUN”
We don’t make empty promises and claims about how we work, how we treat clients, or what we value. We work very hard to embed realistic values in our team. We talk about them, discuss scenarios, share stories, and KEEP talking about them.
We never want to be a top-down organisation or a corporate structure filled with middle managers. We’ve all been there and we all know it’s a broken model. We are not concerned about titles, but about the work being done by those representing our company name.
We consider our current staff the foundational team, with over 70 years of combined experience. These are the people on the ground who own the vision and the core values. We all agree that the telecommunication industry in Australia is wrought with problems, and we are determined to break that mold.
Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching – CS Lewis
Our greatest challenge is ensuring additional staff carry the same level of ownership. We look for our corporate DNA before we have even hired someone because we want them to be ‘Switchy’. Their alignment with our DNA is, in some instances, more important to us than their level of skill, because we know that skill can be acquired, but good character is much harder to teach.
THE CHALLENGE: ADDING STAFF TO THE CORE TEAM
There are basically two things we are looking for – nature and demeanour. Nature refers our basic or inherent features, character, or qualities. This natural wiring that steers our behaviour is difficult to influence. Demeanour refers to our outward behaviour or bearing, which can be influenced by multiple factors, particularly environment.We look for natural tendencies in candidates during our recruitment processes, and by assessing behaviour (demeanour) via experience-based questions and scenario setting, we look for triggers that may indicate various natural tendencies that we consider ‘Switchy’.
WE CANNOT FORCE FEED OUR CORE VALUES
Our goal is that team members internalise the core values. This basically means that they adopt the attitudes and behaviours over time. If this doesn’t happen, they remain worthless. We cannot force intangible behaviours, but we can encourage them in all that we do.‘Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish.
Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.’
– Dwight D Eisenhower
To embed our core values within our teams, we all need to ask ourselves:
HOW ARE WE REPRESENTING OUR CORE VALUES WITHIN OUR TEAMS?
- Internal Interactions – our demeanour in the office, on the phone, how we communicate in team settings, how we interact with staff, how we celebrate wins and handle losses all demonstrate our core values to our team.
- External Interactions – how we communicate with clients, suppliers and networks also demonstrate how well we hold to our values. Phone calls with clients or difficult suppliers that can be overheard or emails that other team members are tracking can are prime ways we set the tone on our workplace.
ARE WE SEEING OUR CORE VALUES REFLECTED IN THE BEHAVIOURS OF OUR TEAM?
- In the emails that are written?
- In their behaviour towards team members?
- In their approach to dealing with clients?
At Switch Telecom, we are seeing our core values reflected more and more in our team, and can’t help but stop to celebrate when we see good outcomes.We know that if we find the right people, ‘Switchy’ people, we will grow Switch Telecom. Sounds simple, but it takes hard work and deliberation.If you enjoyed this, please share it.Want to learn more about Switch Telecom’s culture? Go to Careers