We are excited to share our Values and Guiding Principles with the world today! They have of course always been present implicitly, but are now explicit and accessible to everyone, serving as guidelines that shape our everyday behaviour and decisions, which is particularly important in a self-managed environment. While our purpose as our north star – Creating a world where every individual is empowered to constantly grow by disrupting the way organizations operate, while creating the leaders of tomorrow – sets the direction we are heading, our values and guiding principles are more tangible and represent the road we take when moving towards fulfilling it.
The published Values and Guiding Principles will also help us in Recruiting: While we have always been screening for those values in prospects, now they will help job seekers to understand right from the beginning if we as a company live values that they themselves deem important – and consequently, if we are the right fit. That way, we can attract loyal employees who share our beliefs. People who share common values also tend to get along better, so it’s easier to work towards common goals – fulfilling our purpose.
Furthermore, our Values can help (potential) clients understand what EMPAUA is all about and help them decide if we are a company they would like to work with.
So how did we go about putting what we stand for, what we believe in, and lastly our identity as a company, into words? We certainly did not want to pick some fancy buzzwords, put them on our website and claim them as our values. Moreover, it’s not even possible to do that – you cannot “set” values, but need to discover what is already there.
Therefore, we sent around a survey asking every employee for the values that are currently lived at EMPAUA, their own core values they bring to work regardless if they are rewarded or not, our greatest strengths as a company and the behaviours they think we should be expecting from everybody. We then evaluated it and mapped out the results. Afterwards, we asked representatives of each Circle (“team”) for feedback, then processed the input we received. The outcome is a set of values and guiding principles which every one of us is represented by.
We ended up with four Core Values and 2-3 Guiding Principles for each value, which will help us to understand how to live up to them.
Here they are:
Our team is our greatest asset. We are proud that each and every one of us is committed to contributing to a happy and healthy tribe.
1. Striving for connection
I know that I can rely on my colleagues for the roles they fill, but also know that these are people with many interests, talents, diverse backgrounds, feelings and needs and we are all welcome to bring our whole selves to work. That way, I can have open, honest and authentic relationships with my teammates. We make an effort to get to know each other, understand each other, help each other out and have fun together.
2. Fostering a healthy feedback culture
I believe in the value of feedback, and I aim to contribute to fostering a feedback giving culture at EMPAUA. Whether this be kudos for good work, some praising hands emojis on Slack or constructive criticism for improval, feedback removes personal blind spots and harbours personal growth. When giving feedback, I base it on my own observations, not judgments or other people’s opinions. On the other hand, I am open for feedback that is offered to me as it helps me to reflect and become aware of both my strengths and shortcomings.
3. Resolving conflicts
I address tensions, both in the tribal as well as in the operational space, and don’t let conflicts boil under the surface. I speak up when there is a problem, to try and solve it in a conversation or meeting based on mutual respect instead of talking behind someone’s back. During a conversation, I listen to understand, not to respond. I will have the opportunity to explain my point of view after I have clearly listened and processed what is being communicated to me by my teammate. If I seek first to understand, the chance of being understood myself afterwards is much higher.
All of our projects are delivered in a team effort, so collaboration is one of our core values. Together, we multiply our contribution: Common goals and mutual support lead to bigger success.
1. Supporting each other
I offer help or advice whenever I can, and I am happy to contribute to my colleagues’ growth where possible. I consider the potential impact on my team before taking action because in the end, we are like cells in an organism: Every cell is important and has to contribute to the objective, but none of us can do it alone.
2. Being reliable
What I say is what I do: I keep track of the tasks I agree to do and make sure I get it done on time, so stakeholders can rely on me and concentrate on their own tasks.
3. Striving for quality
I want to amaze both my colleagues and clients. Regardless whether it’s about internal or customer projects, I care about the results and want them to be the best they can possibly be. Therefore, I’m dedicated to my work and am prepared to go the extra mile if needed.
Transparency reveals the background of our actions, makes them understandable and creates trust. It also promotes the participation of everyone in the company and enables ownership and informed decision-making. Therefore, we value transparency very highly and grant everyone in the company access to all necessary information like financials, salaries, decisions, or changes. We want everybody to act on the same knowledge base.
1. Default to transparency
I actively consider whether knowledge I have or information I come across could also be valuable to someone else, regardless if it is a client or colleague, and if so, I share it.
2. Communicating proactively
Being proactive means aiming to avert problems before they arise: I take action, embrace my responsibility and control my responses. I don’t wait until others ask me about updates or outcomes, but actively address the people involved. I speak up if I can’t meet deadlines or keep agreements, so the plan can be changed accordingly.
As we do not have managers in the traditional sense at EMPAUA – people being involved in all of our tasks, assigning them to us and overlooking everything we do – it is important that we have excellent self-management skills and thrive to improve them on a constant basis.
1. Getting things done
I make sure my self-management system works, and if it doesn’t, I adjust it. With the purpose and accountabilities of my roles as guiding stars, I organize my own work, manage my time efficiently and meet deadlines, show responsibility for my projects and simply get stuff done.
2. Seeking alignment, but not consensus
I am empowered to take decisions within my roles. I gather advice from stakeholders who would be meaningfully affected by them to ensure that I am sufficiently informed. After considering all feedback, I took the decision based on my own assessment of what I trust is best in the current situation. I will take on the responsibility for the results and I will adjust if the outcome is different from what I was striving for.
3. Being determined to learn and grow
I sit in the driver’s seat of my own development. Especially in this fast-changing world, I want to stay on top of things and develop my skills along with the requirements of the environment. I can ask others for support but in the end, my own dedication and willpower are most important to reach my goals. I share these goals openly with the rest of the team to make sure they can support me, give feedback or simply encourage me in times I am about to give up. In between, I take a step back and reflect to never lose track of the bigger picture.