A Company and Culture Rooted in Values
August 31, 2016
At GeekHive we have a few special traditions, one is our annual summer BBQ. The whole team comes together, along with our families, to celebrate another great year together. There’s delicious food, drinks, games, and lots of fun! The highlights this year were the bounce house water slide and obstacle course that was a hit with both the kids and adults, and the homemade cornhole we made the day before.
A New Tradition
This year we decided to expand this tradition and introduce an off-site event that gave everyone an opportunity to come together and focus our energy working on the company, outside and away from our day-to-day activities and distractions.
One of the big objectives for GeekHive in 2016 was to shift the way we work and interact with our partners away from services to become an experience and outcomes company – which led to me joining the team as Chief Experience Officer earlier this year. It’s no secret that great customer experience starts with a healthy, well-aligned team. Most of the people who make up the GeekHive team have been working together for a long time, but we’ve grown the team 38% in the last 12 months and we’re still hiring.
Off-site: Mission, Vision, Values
With the addition of each uniquely awesome team member comes a deeper collective experience, fresh perspectives, and an expanded set of values. I wanted to tap into this and focus our time together sharing our personal values and ultimately defining our tribal core values. As we grow it’s incredibly important that we have a strong understanding and alignment around our core values, mission, and vision.
Often grouped together, these statements serve very different purposes:
- Mission acknowledges and articulates the company’s core purpose; why it exists. For employees, it’s a clear reminder of why we do what we do.
- Vision is all about the future state. It should be inspirational and aspirational; something everyone in the company is constantly working towards.
- Values or Value Statements serve as the moral compass. They represent the company’s most coveted, deeply held beliefs and inform decision-making and standards for how the company and its team members conduct themselves.
Ultimately, these value statements will serve as the foundation that guides our decision making moving forward. This gets us away from having to ask “what would Peter (our Founder, President, and CEO) do?” As long as we’re staying true to our core values, we can trust we’re doing- the right thing.
Leadership and History
We chose Crystal Springs – Grand Cascades for the venue. It’s not that far from our main office, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. We spent Thursday meeting as a leadership team reflecting on where the company came from. Many of the team members included in this meeting have been with the company since the very early days, and it was great for me, a new team member, to hear GeekHive’s rich, very personal history.
The meeting was facilitated by our friends at Soundboard, Richard Magid and Catharine Petroff. I worked with them ahead of time to explore different ways to approach the off-site and we ultimately chose to adopt CultureSync’s Mountains & Valleys approach to identifying the core values that helped define the company up through this recent surge in growth. We segwayed into how this informed our unofficial mission, personally reflecting on what we felt our company’s core purpose was, and our President Peter Ladka led a deeper discussion around the vision for GeekHive in the years to come.
A Collaborative, Company-Wide Effort
Friday, we brought the entire team together and shared some of our personal core values which were identified through a prior (personal) Mountains & Valleys exercise. We wanted to involve the entire organization so that the company values would truly resonate and be adopted by everyone, at every level of the organization, not just mandated based on the work leadership had done the day before. That approach would not have been effective, and would have been far less rewarding. We also recognized that developing a values-driven organization would take time, so having everyone involved and on board from the get-go would make a much bigger impact on getting us there.
This was also a great opportunity to learn more about our fellow coworkers and what values they identify with. Since the Mountains & Valleys exercise was completed ahead of time , Catharine from Soundboard was able to crunch the data and present back to us a first-look at our collective values.
We finished the day breaking into 3 smaller groups, aptly named: Adventurers, Makers, and Do-Gooders. The intention of the afternoon was to get everyone interacting with people in the company they might not usually get a chance to work with, and do so in a manner that resonated most with them, leaving them with a feeling of accomplishment. The Adventures tackled an Escape the Mystery Room working together towards freedom, the Makers built 4 tailgating/lawn games for use at the company BBQ the next day, and the Do-Gooders did (you guessed it) a whole lot of good purchasing and packing over 20 backpacks with basic school supplies for children at the Middletown Homeless Shelter and another 14 backpacks filled with basic school supplies to the Alamo/Farmworkers Community Center in Goshen! I’ve linked to photo albums for each group so you can check them out.
Both days were a huge success and packed a ton of value. We capped it all off with our annual summer BBQ where everyone got to kick back, relax, enjoy each other, and the great company that we make up collectively.
As a follow-up, we’re hosting working lunches where we bring smaller groups together to help get to the core of the values we identified, and settle on a few core value statements. Along with this, we plan to finalize our mission and vision statements. All of these will ultimately help shape our understanding of why and how we work together, and with our partners, and position us to maintain our culture of people first, employees second as we continue to grow.
As Chief Experience Officer at GeekHive, this work is incredibly important to me and not something that can be glossed over. We want the amazing experiences we create to be a natural outcome of the way we work. To do this effectively we need to understand and truly live our core values. This work was the first of many steps we’ll take, and we’re excited for the journey to come. Keep an eye out for follow-up blog posts as we progress, and feel free to tweet me @mcaccavano to continue the conversation.
If this resonated with you and you’re looking to join our team, check out open positions on our Careers Page.
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