The Aire way — living our values
Company values are non-monetary, not time specific and never ‘done’ — but here’s why they matter.
Today, a company defining it’s values is a pretty standard procedure. Often done retrospectively as a company grows up, the need to define a set of values is often an uncomfortable process that can feel disingenuous for current employees and a departure from the real business at hand for CEOs. Today it’s reported that 80% of Fortune 100 companies talk publicly about their values. But how many of these actually live by them?
At Aire we’ve reflected on our own values in order to share with you exactly why they matter to us and how they shape the thinking of our team, and the practical direction of our business, everyday.
But first, what exactly do we mean by ‘values’?
Values are a set of ideas that define the way a company operates. They are non-monetary, they are not time specific and they are never ‘done’. Instead, they instil personality as well as clear checks on everyone who interacts with them — they should enable activity, streamline a company’s work and at times force a different path. They are also a clear indicator of a company’s distinctiveness, values show the outside world what a company holds most dear.
At Aire, we subscribe to four key values. They are the cornerstone of our business and inform how we hire (every candidate takes part in a ‘Culture and Values’ interview as part of the hiring process), how we work and how we communicate with each other.
- Ship version 0.1: A lot can be achieved by getting an early version out. We believe in staying agile and learning from it rather than keep tinkering.
- Own the monkey: We are fully formed adults. That means when someone takes responsibility at Aire, they take it fully, proudly and gladly.
- Seek win-win outcomes: We create products that never favour or exploit one side at the expense of the other. That’s just not how we operate.
- Enter the uncomfortable forest: We’re not afraid to take the hard path. Even if it takes more time or creates more pain. We want to ensure we do it the right way.
But for us, values are not about having a neatly curated list of words that sit on our website, in documents or pitch decks. They inform how we operate as a team. Here we talk to Candy, Chris, Adi, Fred and Clare about what Aire’s four values mean to them.
‘A walk in the uncomfortable forest is always an adventure of discovery… if you dare!’
For Candy, our People Consultant, it’s the authenticity of our values that’s so important:
‘It’s amazing to work with a company that hasn’t just grabbed some clichéd values and stuck them on the wall. They found ones that are real, original and authentic to the business, as a team and a culture, and truly embrace them and live them in their day-to-day work.’
Her favourite value? Enter the uncomfortable forest: ‘this speaks to the need of every one of us to have a growth mindset approach to working at a start-up. Not afraid to make mistakes, to take the hard path, to work with uncertainty and to challenge your comfort zones.’
‘Our values help us find the right balance in our work’
Chris, Data Scientist, explains why Aire’s values impact his work:
‘The values at Aire are important because we are working in an industry with lots of political and societal sensitivities, and the values help with finding the right balance between enabling consumers and providing benefit to lenders.’
‘My favourite value is ship version 0.1, because it encourages us to find deliverable benefits in a complex operating environment.’
‘Do the hard things, so that they become easy, and you more capable!’
But good values are also about interpretation. How are our values practically picked up by our team and integrated into their day-to-day?
Adi, Software Engineer, explains: ‘good values are a checklist to guide thinking and decision making — particularly when wrestling with conflicting choices or difficult decisions. I phrase the values as questions, and see whether I can answer yes to them, for example:
- Am I/are we shipping v.0.1?
- Am I/are we seeking win-win outcomes?
- Am I/are we owning the monkey?
- Am I/are we entering the uncomfortable forest?
Often, the answer to at least one of these will be ‘No’. So exploring the reasons why I’m not acting in line with the value(s) is very instructive, and has often revealed important things that need clarification or refinement in an approach, assumption, or belief.’
For Adi, deciding on a favourite value was tricky. Why? ‘Because they’re all essential to my checklist, but if I had to pick one, it would be enter the uncomfortable forest because it is the most transformational value that drives continuous improvement in all areas of life’.
‘Like a radar in the fog, company values help us carve our path forward whenever we think we’re lost.’
For Frederik, Data Scientist, he sees our values as important in providing clarity to his work. His favourite? ‘Enter the uncomfortable forest because it best expresses change and innovation’.
‘Our values help us resonate with each other better’
As well as informing our work, Aire’s values help steer us in how we interact with each other. They instil trust and reassure us all that we’re all working towards the same core outcomes for the business.
‘Values help us relate to one another in a mature and compassionate way’, explains Clare, Software Engineer, here at Aire. ‘They give us confidence and trust in each other, allowing us to assume people are making decisions with the best of intentions and doing the best they can.’
Interested in finding out more about the Aire way? Head over to our website.
— Alex, on behalf of Aire
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