BACKED People & Culture Series

If your values can’t guide you at these crunch points, your values kinda suck

How to stress-test your values to create a meaningful, authentic culture

Image for post
Image for post
“Culture”. It’s not just for hippies. (HLD/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Image for post
Image for post
Backed’s values: Put People First. Be An Apprentice. Push The Limits. Bring Good Energy.
  • Do they speak to your identity?
  • Can you argue with them?
  • Do they leave you open to criticism?
  • Will they guide you when the chips are down?

There’s a saying in the military that if you see something below standard and do nothing, then you’ve set a new standard.

When you know where the bar is, it’s simple to point to what falls beneath it and offer feedback for course correction. If someone does fall short, it’s far easier and more powerful to have a values system to measure their behaviours against, than it would be simply to offer that you don’t like the way they do business.

1. Hiring

I’m a recruiter by trade, so I could write a ranty longread on this subject alone, but thankfully for you, that’s not why we’re here. So what do your values have to do with hiring? If you’ve set them well, the answer is: everything.

Image for post
Image for post

2. Employee experience

Trust me on this: If you can’t walk the walk close to home, everyone will know.

3. Customer experience

In our personal lives, our values (whether they’re written down or not) can determine who we get to be friends with, what kinds of interactions we have with those friends, and how they think about us. They also determine how we think about ourselves: how we get to experience pride, or shame, or a sense of achievement. As a business, your values should set you apart from the competition every day, all the time, in your quotidien dealings with everyone you encounter. Your customers should know what you stand for when you’re on the pitch, when you’re setting terms and conditions, and at every single point of the customer journey thereafter.

4. Business Unusual

If there’s anything that living and working through my second economic downturn has taught me, it’s that your values become invaluable to you when BAU becomes B un-U. How do you behave in a crisis? How do you deliver bad news? How do you show people your priorities?

Image for post
Image for post
These aged well

That’s where their power lies, you see: your business’s lived values affect the day to day experience of everyone who touches it, and if you’re not clever about it, that experience can be extremely and unnecessarily painful.

Next — and this may seem obvious — I’ve now seen with my own eyes that while words can be inspiring, it’s backing them up with action that engenders trust. If you can use your values to foster a culture that pairs style with substance, you’re on to a winner.

Written by

People practitioner, hiring specialist, dog enthusiast. Manager, Firm Operations at Backed VC since 2018.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store