Your company vision is supposed to serve as a compass for your business and guide every employee on the same path to a distinct goal. And in many ways, it embodies your business character. So what do you do when the vision you originally created just doesn't fit you anymore?
This was the reality for financial services company Payoneer. As chief people officer Aviva Arnon explains, Payoneer's growth meant that the business needed a stronger, uniform company culture more appropriate for global work.
"Our new set of values serve as a means of unifying our internal teams with one another and with our customer base to help enhance Payoneer's overall business impact," Arnon says. "The goal in doing this was to boost morale and provide employees with a sense of ownership, belonging, and, most important, consistency--no matter where they are in the world."
One year, four phases, six new ideas
To get the new values, Payoneer had to go through the following steps, which can serve as a script for you:
- Review existing values and pull the ones still relevant to current or future operations.
- Hold workshops with employees from all geographies, departments, levels, and functions to flesh out the values in an empowering, collaborative way.
- Evaluate workshop feedback, comparing information from the different groups side by side.
- Break down the newly drafted values into new, uniform ideals that address emotional and executional components that best represent the new, global Payoneer persona.
Completing these steps took Payoneer more than a year. But at the end of it all, the company had six main ideals that truly spoke to what employees in every role expected and dreamed for the company to be. In particular, the team realized how important the concept of "going beyond" was.
"Regardless of the particular meaning it held for each individual," Arnon asserts, "it quickly became clear that this was the final missing piece, something that was in our company's DNA and, therefore, had to be included in our new values."
And while the process took time, Arnon says that the company's employees understood why Payoneer was shaking things up, and that they responded positively overall.
"Our employees were appreciative of the fact that our new values reflected their 'go beyond' insights and contributions," she says. "They also valued the fact that we were not being gimmicky and simply distributing wallet-size cards, but instead were working on a more experiential type of cultural communication, actively shaping our collective work environment based on our newly defined values."
Communicate everything (without speeding through) is the name of the game
Arnon says that the biggest takeaway from the experience has been understanding more about how powerful great communication is. With the definition of the new values coming from the bottom up, the results ended up more universally accepted across the business. She asserts that it's important to get in touch with your people--all your people--and let them take the lead. By including everyone in important processes, showing them that their input is valuable and convincing them they can shape and design the company culture, you have an opportunity to boost their passion and enthusiasm. And if you do that, workers can end up happier.
Arnon also points out that staying connected is the simplest way for entrepreneurs and their teams to know it's time for a values shift. These shifts aren't a bad thing and don't necessarily mean you're breaking down your brand. They simply mean that your culture and strategy both have evolved naturally as you've expanded or grown, and that you need new concepts that reflect new requirements. Making sure employees are involved in solidifying those new ideas during milestones can help promote continued growth. You just have to stay aware of and be sensitive to inherent differences that might be present in different cultures in your business, since those differences might mean people don't understand or interpret messages the way you mean them to.
"Take your time and really go through the process," she advises. "So many entrepreneurs and startups rush and think that there is no time or real need to define values, because all employees should inherently understand the company culture. This is a tremendous misconception. Everyone interprets things in a different way, so it is important to take the time to carefully [and] methodically choose and define your values. Then, make sure that they are clearly and fully communicated to your employees."