I read the book The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni on the recommendation of another CEO/founder who swears by the premise of the book: a company’s culture can be the most important factor in success.
Until I read the book, I hadn’t thought much about culture. Before I started Listenwise, I worked in public radio, a non-profit entity, where I didn’t have to focus on building work culture.
Listenwise has fewer than a dozen employees and I thought culture was something we needed to think about when the business grew larger. But what I’ve learned is that it’s never too early to focus intentionally on creating culture.
Instead of letting your culture grow with the business, you need to intentionally invest in your work culture. The basis of that culture are well-thought-out core values and a mission statement.
As the CEO, there are always pressing things I need to do at any given moment, so thankfully I have two employees who are interested in helping to lead the internal focus on our culture. With their help we came up with a collective set of core values and reviewed our mission statement (which I had created in the beginning months of the company). While the mission statement had been revised when my business partner and COO joined Listenwise, it had not been reviewed in 3 years.
Using tips from the book The Advantage, they created a process to survey and collect feedback from members of our team. They interviewed everyone in the company about whether our core values best represented the company and how they saw our mission. What needed tweaking? What needed rewriting?
With data from those interviews they suggested changes to our core values based on employee feedback. My business partner and I were in charge of updating the company mission. We held several meetings talking deeply about who we are as a company today and how we will evolve in the future. Could our mission and values capture both the company today and the company of the future?
The collaborative effort was amazing. The result is gratifying.
Here’s what we came up with…
We inspire individuals to fulfill their potential through the power of listening.
External Core Values:
We believe in the importance of listening for success in life.
We believe in the power of a great story.
We believe that listening makes the world a better place.
We behave like it matters.
We care about listening.
We get it done.
We have high standards.
At a company meeting we shared the final wording of the mission and values – which is a combination of all team input. Now, we are putting together a “culture deck” which is a deck of PowerPoint slides to share who we are with any new employees and to revisit internally on a regular basis.
Because, of course, you won’t remember what you don’t review. And if you don’t stick to your core values and mission, your culture won’t grow according to what’s most important to everyone, aligned to your company’s goals of course.