How Thrive created company values, and how you can do the same

November 9, 2021
Michael Nuciforo

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When we started Thrive, we had an ambitious dream to make it breathtakingly fast and easy for business owners to manage their finances because we know that you don’t start a business to do the books!

It was a challenge the team had intimate experience in dealing with and a problem we were excited to solve. We had clear goals and we set ourselves ambitious targets. We were privilege enough to raise money, hire great people and we brought in the best advisors. That's when it hit us. Something was missing. We knew where we wanted to go, but we had no idea about how we wanted to get there. We needed to define our company values.

Values are the fundamental beliefs and behaviours of a person or organisation. They act as the guiding principles from which decisions are made and behaviours are established. If you want to trek to the top of Mount Everest, think of your values as the map to get there.  

If someone from outside your business was to step into your office, or join a meeting, these values would likely be immediate apparent. Often, initial values are unconsciously established through the working styles of the founders and early employees. Over time, values can reflect the changing priorities of your business.  

 

When your values are clear, making decisions is easy. How you communicate, how you act, what work activities you prioritise and more importantly how you treat each other, should be easy to manifest. Values create a purpose, improve team cohesion, and result in a sense of focus.

 

As a business, you can’t be good at everything.  In a similar vein, you also can’t tailor the way you operate to every team member, stakeholder, or investor. Your values become your standard, and people that join your business, must adapt to them.

Imagine your business had the following value:

Punctuality: We always endeavor to be on time for scheduled appointments.

This value might be important to your business because you operate a 24-hour medical clinic and you know that for your customers, they really value having appointments run on time. This value is clearly defined and easy to understand.  

Now imagine that this 24-hour medical clinic had franchises across Australia and punctuality was not a defined value. Whilst most franchise owners appreciated the fact that punctuality was important, it was not an agreed behaviour. Some franchises made it a priority and some did not. If this were the case, you can easily see how a few franchises could easily impact the reputation of your entire business. One bad apple can spoil the bunch.

 

Values are especially important as you start to scale your team and bring in more new hires. In an ideal scenario, whether you have 10, 100 or 1000 employees, you want your entire business singing from the same hymn sheet. Without clearly defined values, you run the risk of every team, department or franchise operating as their own fiefdom.  

We recently went through the process of defining our values at Thrive, and we wanted to open-source our approach so that you could see how we did it, apply your own take to it, or share your feedback and thoughts. Creating values has been such an important activity for us that would like to make it easy for you to do the same.

Our approach consisted of five key stages:

Conduct a survey

Discuss the results

Workshop the themes

Form breakout groups

Define value statements

Conduct a survey

We conducted a survey with the team to identify their personal values, what they observed Thrive's current values to be, and what they though they should be. With a large team we felt it was important to canvas everyone’s unfiltered opinions and a survey was felt to be the best way to do this. A survey also gave the team ample time to really think this through. If you want a copy of the survey, we are more than happy to help, just reach out to wecare@plusthrive.com.

Discuss the results

After we collated the results of the survey, we ran a series of workshops to brainstorm, discuss and debate the findings. The objective of these session was to develop a collective understanding around what was important, and how different team members interpreted the meaning of different values. We intentionally didn’t put much structure around the sessions, it was just a chance for everyone to talk and share their perspectives.

Workshop the themes

As a result of the discussion sessions, we then transitioned into agreeing the key value themes that emerged. This was a particularly interesting phase in the process, and to be frank, an activity that we anticipated would take longer than it did. However, in one session we were able to come to an agreement on five key themes.

Form breakout groups

After agreeing the key value themes, we asked the team to nominate if there were any themes that really resonated with them. As people nominated, we formed five breakout groups with the purpose of taking the value selected, documenting some suggested wording, and presenting it back to the group. Each group then nominated a team captain to lead the coordination of their team.  

Define value statements

The team members then reconvened a week later with the whole group to run through some different options for how they drafted the value statement. Each team presented three to five different options for the group to consider. The general format we agreed was:

Headline

Clarifying statement

Expected behaviours

During the session we discussed and considered the assorted options and settled on some terminology that worked for the group. The value statements were then refined, word smithed and incorporated into a poster for the whole team to reference. You can read our brand new values below:

I am super proud of the contribution that each team member made to the process and we achieved a fantastic outcome.  

We are now going to work on really embedding these values in terms of hiring, recognition, performance reviews and our ways of working.  

If you have any questions, or what to chat more about this, please reach out to wecare@plusthrive.com and we will be more than happy to help.

Download the free Thrive 2020 SME Banking, Accounting & Financial Management Report

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