* In this chapter, Connect&GO employees are referred to as GOers (a genderless term that includes all team members).
Impossible to hide or run away from, COVID has definitively shaken us, and not just a little. Unfortunately, over the last few months, we have had to:
– Go through the heavy and unfortunate task of transforming the temporary layoffs of a good number of GOers into permanent ones to ensure the health, safety and sustainability of the company, as well as the one of the members of our reduced team;
– Put ½ of our business sectors on pause;
– Experience a significant drop in our business contracts with the highest summer season completely lost;
– Navigate the uncertainty and worry of resuming the event activities that are the DNA of what we do.
Following a significant organizational culture transformation that began before COVID and in order to successfully navigate this crisis with our now reduced workforce, we therefore felt it was important to return to the drawing board in order to focus on:
– The meaning of our mission and our affiliation with the identity of the company;
– The behaviors that would be the benchmarks of what we now want to expect from each other;
– The general principles that would motivate us and guide us in our purpose of company;
– The identity of what we wanted to become as a GOer and what we wanted to be together after the crisis at Connect&GO.
We all agreed; we needed to revisit our organizational values! This chapter tells you our story about how we did it. (The Guide to Creating Organizational Values created by Bamboo HR was an important source of influence in setting up our internal values review exercise. You can find it here if you want to learn more.)
But just before delving into how this exercise unfolds, the key aspect to consider is the power sharing that has been achieved during this initiative, as the leadership has invited and provided a place at the discussion table of the conception of our new organizational values to all team members. So there was no question of a top-down approach at all, and just quite the opposite actually. Several virtual mini-group sessions were held in order to hear the perspective of the GOers, to welcome and consider their suggestions, to be attentive to what could have been expressed irritants of the past in order to be able to act accordingly in the future. After all, Organizational Culture is defined by what each of our people do, think, dream and say, so it would have been completely off to not think about including them as ‘organizational citizens’ with important responsibilities during this transformation! With full transparency, it createsd friction, it is inevitable. Every team member and the different levels of the hierarchy did not necessarily see the future in the same way. These misunderstandings have been little gold nuggets to stimulate thinking to achieve mutual alignment and understanding, and accepting these reluctance, fears and debates is not only difficult or negative, but rather enriching! We have grown as a team during this process.
STEP 1 : EVALUATE OUR PREVIOUS VALUES
The first step required our team to start by thinking about what we associated with traffic light colors, completing this colorful matrix:
What we wanted to leave behind, which was no longer going to have its place in our future, which frustrated or disappointed us in our daily work life, which were the reasons behind the departures of some members of the team before;
What we really wanted to bring with us from our past, what makes our team members smile, what makes sense to them, what represents pride in the company;
Finally, what is not yet in place, which we have not yet developed but which must be added to our Culture in order to answer the question: ‘if there was something that was implanted in your job that would change everything for you, what would it be?’.
STEP 2 : DREAM OUR REINVENTED CULTURE AND DEFINE THE RELATED VALUES
Secondly, as BambooHR suggests it, we reflected on what our dream culture would look like, from a helicopter view, in order to transform this high-level perspective into concrete values. What would be the 5 new values that would represent us the best? We found that thinking about it in terms of descriptive and observable behaviors first really helped us a lot to then group them together and convert the main categories into values. Since we wanted to hold ourselves accountable to each other for these behaviors, we first needed to know what they actually were. For example, one expected behavior of all GOers under what would become the value of Promoting Transparency is ‘We share information proactively and openly’. So the end result is that each value is defined by 5 behaviors.
Once again, this whole process was done with all the team members around the virtual discussion tables! GOers have so many good ideas, good intentions, dreams for the company they work for; including them is the only way to do it! It created awesome moments for everyone to be able to take part in discussions, to be heard and respected, as opposed to having expected behaviors and values imposed on them. As it relates to commitment to the implementation of values afterwards, it changes everything to have been considered in the development during the process!
STEP 3 : CREATE A VISUAL & UNIQUE ASPECT OF OUR ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES
To have an organizational culture that would be very unique to us, it was desired by the members of our team to have words and images that would resonate with everyone. It’s hard to be unique when all the companies have already chosen their words and phrases that seem to come up often, and hard to please the whole team when it comes to deciding on a choice. The DNA of our culture has emerged in several ways in this process, and I’ll let you learn about it through the design work told and explained by our Marketing team.
‘During the first months of the pandemic, the team put all its energy into the development of our new product Everest. This allowed us to solidify our technology and be ready to successfully deliver our new projects. This theme was so present for us during this period that we decided to put it forward in the development of our visuals of our values. Each value has become a step in reaching the top of the mountain.’ Geneviève
Here is the final result and the explanations of our team behind the development of these values:
”Transparency is a fundamental value to create relationships of trust with our colleagues and our customers. It allows us to better understand the challenges of the company and the actions to be taken to achieve the desired success!”
”At Connect&GO, there isn’t a day when we don’t learn from the background, experiences and culture of our colleagues. Growing as a team means organizing interdepartmental meetings, listening attentively to other team members and being curious to learn more about each one.”
”The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
”Trust is at the heart of every relationship we build. Whether with customers, among team members, our suppliers, each discussion is an opportunity to build a long-term relationship aligned with the same goal. It is together, by giving each other confidence, that we will grow the company as well as ourselves and have a REAL discussion because with trust comes transparency.”
”I do see passion as our fuel. Every day, I notice that our team is passionate about what we do together and also about all of our successes, big and small, both for the company and for our colleagues.‘‘
STEP 4 : OFFICIALLY LAUNCH OUR VALUES INTERNALLY
Because at each step the team members were part of the development and implementation of these values, it was obvious out of respect to present the creative and final product to the team first. It is above all a working tool for us, and not just a series to be shared with the outside world. Each member of the team will receive a promotional tool in the colors of these values to recall the meaning and importance of these, decided, validated and confirmed all together. What a pride!
STEP 5 : IDENTIFY METHODS TO BRING VALUES TO LIFE
Finally, the next step will be for each department to receive the challenge of bringing the values to life through a concrete initiative for the following quarter. Thus, we are ensuring we will achieve three objectives:
- That organizational values remain not just pretty words and creative illustrations, but real behaviors expected of all team members in our daily lives;
- That organizational culture be the responsibility of everyone and not only of the Culture & Engagement department;
- That the initiatives and development projects all have an organizational touch in order to ensure that we remain aligned with our compass, which is all of our organizational values.
I will come back to you next month with other initiatives that we have put in place in OUR CULTURE CODE.
Talk to you soon!
Sophie Gadoury – Connect&GO Head, Culture & Engagement