What do you do when your company culture begins to evolve? Do you recognize the change or do you ignore it?
After growing our brand for 10 years, we were faced with this exact challenge. Our business had evolved in so many ways — the team was growing, literally, we had recently added 20 new people to the team and we even launched a new product. But we started to feel like our values needed to be revisited.
So we chose to recognize the change as an opportunity — to stay true to our company vision and evolve our values so that they resonated with the culture we had nurtured.
Let the storytelling begin.
On Animoto’s culture
To get the bottom of how we tackled this challenge, I spoke to three team members at Animoto who played an integral role in updating our company values. Jason Hsiao, Co-founder and Chief Video Officer was the first.
“We’ve heard from the beginning one of the main reasons people love to work at Animoto is the culture,” shared Jason. Putting this feeling into the right words was trickier than you might think, Jason recalled.
While we had company values, like “no politics“ and “discuss, debate, decide”, and they were proudly put on display in our NYC HQ office, we never designed values unique to Animoto and the culture we had developed.
And then Jason had a personal experience that led to a major realization.
In the middle of last year, Jason’s friend, who also owned a company, asked him to lunch. She was concerned with the culture at her company and knew something needed to be done about it as soon as possible. She asked Jason a simple question, “Can you tell me what to do?” She even took out a notebook, ready to take notes!
“I started to realize it’s not about any one thing you do,” Jason shared, “It’s not about the drinks in the fridge, or the company meetings, it’s much bigger than that. It’s about the people.”
While we were proud of our established company values (we displayed them in our NYC office on a hand-drawn chalkboard sign), it was becoming increasingly clear that we should update our company values to reflect the unique culture at Animoto.
Plus things were about to change.
When we knew it was time to evolve our company values
Around this time the Animoto team was growing. Our plan for 2017 was to hire twenty new people to the team! If we were going to maintain our culture, it became clear to Jason that, “we should take the time to define it, understand it, and know how to preserve and protect it.”
The time was right to revisit our values.
This sentiment was echoed by Animoto’s VP of People, Michelle Leirer. “The qualities that we already have are the most important to preserve,” she shared. And by redefining our values, Michelle explained, we would have a better understanding of who we wanted to hire.
Assembling the right team
The plan was set to redefine our company values, but the goal was to make sure they were a true reflection of the company and who we were today. The ideas for defining the new values needed to come from Animoto employees.
The first step was to bring this idea to Animoto’s management team meeting. All of the managers were asked to think about the qualities of specific people on their teams and write them down on individual sticky notes.
Megan O’Neill, Animoto’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, was part of that initial meeting, “We lumped everyone’s ideas together and quickly saw the themes that started to emerge.”
Immediately it was clear that our team valued traits like humility, a problem-solving attitude, and the pursuit of creativity.
The next step was to choose a final phrase or word that could describe these core values, but in a way that was unique to Animoto. The values needed to stick, so the final values needed to be one word that was easy to remember and use.
At this point there were many ideas, the team was close but it wasn’t feeling right. The team also had a looming deadline, the new values would be presented to the entire company at YETI, our biannual company gathering in NYC.
A group of volunteers assembled including team members from management, and a few additional creative folks. Through a few creative work sessions the group put together a few ideas, some wackier than others.
Jason and Megan took this list above and came together to turn these ideas into what would become our actual values.
Time for the big reveal
At Animoto, we believe video is the best way to communicate what you’re passionate about, so our values were first shared to the team with a video. And that’s how we’d like to share them with you!
Like we said, we wanted our values to be unique to the culture of Animoto and so our values have names that are unique as well.
Humbletude — The perfect blend of humility and confidence
Betterfication — Hungry for solutions, not problems
Oomphosity — Living life with that extra gear
We’ll explore each of these values in depth in future posts, so be on the lookout!
5 Tips for updating your company values
After going through this process, we’ve learned a thing or two.
Involve the right employees at your company
It’s natural to involve co-founders and executive team members into the process, but don’t stop there! Long-time employees can add a historical perspective to your values, and creative copywriters can make them sound right.
Asking for volunteers is another way to add more folks into the mix, as those employees will be passionate about redefining your company’s culture and being involved in the process.
Choose values that reflect your unique culture
During the entire process from start to finish, it was clear that our values needed to be Animoto-esque, if you will.
Your values should be customized to your culture. Customization is important so you don’t end up with values that are cliche or untrue to your team today or aspirationally.
Communicate the updated values to your entire team
Part of the fun in developing new values is sharing them! It’s also a critical step in seeing if you got them right. We found video to be the best way to share our updated values with the team. In fact, Jason, Michelle, and Megan all agree that it was the video that really made the updated values hit home for everyone at Animoto.
Take your time
Part of this process is to wrestle with it, and know that it could take a few months to settle on what your values will be. It may even take time to recognize why you may want to update your company values.
If you’re recognizing an evolution in your company culture or you’re about to hire new employees, it’s a great time to work on company values. Putting guide rails in place can help you out as your team grows.
And of course, even after you’ve updated the values you’ll want to continue to define them and operationalize them.
Operationalize your new values
And on that note, when it comes to updating your team’s values, you don’t want to set them and forget them. Have a plan for how you’ll use these values once they’re finalized.
At Animoto, we’ve done this in a few ways. Our values are incorporated into onboarding new hires, annual reviews, and our interview process. We’re always looking for new ways to incorporate them into our processes, and that’s part of the fun as well.