Core values mean different things to different organizations. For some, they don’t amount to much more than internal PR — lip service paid to the abstract notion of a great workplace. In such cases, employees might not experience anything beyond a framed poster listing a handful of aspirational phrases.
Other companies, however, believe the core values they define should serve as essential guidelines when building a business and culture. For organizations like these, it’s important that their values are deeply integrated in their day-to-day existence.
At Torrent Consulting, we strive to be the latter — and we’re often asked how we do it.
To better understand the ways we bring our core values to life, I spoke to JJ Yelton, Torrent’s Culture and Experience Manager. Over the course of a brief interview, she shared 5 concrete strategies she and her team use to make sure our values remain a key strand in the company’s DNA.
#1: Search for candidates who exemplify our values.
One of the best ways to ensure your company’s values remain alive and well is to hire people who exemplify them — and that’s exactly what we do. No matter the role we’re trying to fill, we search for candidates who embody the things we believe in.
That means we don’t only ask questions about expertise and experience (though those are certainly important, too). Instead, we encourage interviewees to share their stories, passions and beliefs — in other words, to tell us who they really are. In doing so, we try our best to obtain a fuller picture of each potential new member of our team. To understand not just whether they could do the job, but whether they’d be a good fit. Are they driven? A team player? Resourceful? Do they really want to be here? For us, these are essential traits.
#2: Lead with values during orientation.
Once a new employee joins our team, it’s crucial that we continue to demonstrate the importance of our values. During each new hire’s very first onboarding session, for example, our Culture and Experience Manager begins by creating a space for sharing stories. How did you find us? What lead you here? What are the things that make you excited to get out of bed in the morning? The point here is to show new Torrent Guides that they can be truly authentic (one of our values). As Yelton put it, “You don’t check yourself at the door — you get to be you.”
Further along in the orientation process, we emphasize our other values. Members of the same hiring class will work together on mock projects (team oriented, resourceful). They’ll learn about our social impact initiatives, and be offered the chance to get involved (servant leader)... You get the idea.
#3: Create an office environment where values can thrive.
It might not seem like a company’s physical office space would make much of a difference when it comes to core values, but we’ve found that it actually plays a major role. Because so many of our values hinge on the meaningful relationships our team members develop with one another, it’s imperative that our hubs are designed to encourage those relationships. Which is why every one of our locations features an open layout, making it easy for everyone to gather, collaborate and share.
If our people were all tucked away in cubicles, it would be so much harder for them to foster those relationships that are so essential to Torrent’s culture.
#4: Company-wide shout outs.
Every morning, our entire company gathers for a 15-minute standup meeting conducted via Zoom. We use this time to share announcements, project recaps, sales and finance updates, new hire spotlights and more. Once a month, however, we dedicate an entire meeting to one of our core values. During these special standups, our people give shout outs to the peers they believe truly embody that particular value.
This practice gives employees across the company reason to keep our values top of mind — plus another way to strengthen their relationships with coworkers. “Every person has a voice,” Yelton told me, “and we’re encouraging every person to speak up.”
#5: Laptop decals.
Monthly standups aren’t the only way our team members can offer core value shoutouts to their peers — we also have core value laptop stickers! The process is simple: If you want somebody to receive a decal, simple post a shout out in Chatter — our internal communication tool — give it the appropriate hashtag (#driven, say) and instruct the recipient to grab a decal from their hub stash.
This is one more way to validate our people, and seeing all those core values stickers on everybody’s laptops is a great daily reminder of our values.