Core Values: A Way to Foster Company Culture
November 24, 2021
By Brian Town, originally featured in SBAM’s FOCUS magazine
n this modern, virtual world, it has become growingly difficult to foster a thriving culture in the workplace. Even before the pandemic, company culture is something our team at Michigan Creative put first. However, we may do this a bit differently than other companies. The biggest factor that drives the company culture at Michigan Creative is our core values. Our core values are simple, detailed principles created around who we are as an organization, team, and most importantly, people. To our team, core values are so much more than just words on a page or our website. They are the values and principles that drive our team and actions as a company.
We utilize these core values for hiring, firing, reviews, raises, marketing and sales. Our core values at Michigan Creative do not talk about our customers or marketing, and there is a good reason for that. Core values should speak to who you want to be as a company and who you want your team to be, inside and outside of work. No two businesses are the same. It could be because of industry, products, processes, or even leadership techniques.
But at the end of the day, what truly sets one company apart from the next is the internal culture. Internal culture allows your business to stand out against your competitors, attract employees, and drive customers and clients. Establishing core values can help develop company culture, brand and business strategies.
Although we have been operating for just over 10 years, we only shared our core values with the world a few years ago. It took time to figure out who we are as a business, who we wanted our team to be, and to find the right people for the right seats. Once we learned that, the rest started to fall into place, and our core values were clear. Now, that does not mean all is perfect. We make mistakes. But when we do, we acknowledge them and make the situation right. Because of our core values our team can accept their mistakes, as well as our wins, and continually learn from both.
As a company, we operate by listening, problem-solving, creating and leading. Our team makes sure those we come into contact with have a better day because of it. Over the last year, with half of our team working remotely—including half of our leadership team—we naturally found ways to connect with one another.
The single most important thing missing from businesses with employees working remotely is human interaction. It is nearly impossible to grow a fruitful company culture without interacting with your teammates or employees regularly.
Make it a habit to develop the cadence of Zoom check-ins weekly or bi-weekly. Do this company-wide and show genuine interest in how your employees are doing with their workload and try to resolve pressing issues together. Not only does our team meet twice a week, but each department head also hosts a smaller-sized check-in within their specific department to ensure things are running smoothly.
With every meeting we host, we typically follow an EOS (Entreprenurial Operating System) format to optimize workflow, but not with our weekly check-in meetings. We still show up with an agenda and the meeting is structured, but we have found it best to change things up and have fun with these meetings. Our check-in meetings allow us to ensure both the company, and we as individuals, are communicating, on the same page and not overwhelmed.
Invest in Each Other
One significant thing the Michigan Creative team learned early in the remote work transition was the importance of investing in conversations that have nothing to do with work. I intentionally use the word “invest” because by genuinely taking an interest in each other’s lives outside of work, you can build and reinforce bonds that strengthen your team for the long term.
Since working remotely, the Michigan Creative team has made it a point to schedule extra time to chat about things that do not pertain to work. Also, at check-in meetings, we always share one good thing that is happening in our lives. By sharing a good thing, we stay connected and involved with each other.
Do not be afraid to turn some emails into phone calls. It doesn’t hurt to have a one-on-one conversation with your co-worker, especially when we mostly interact virtually. Sometimes just talking with someone can help you figure out an issue, spark some creativity or gain new perspective on a project.
In addition to our team meetings, Michigan Creative holds quarterly Zooms or in-person meetings with each team member individually. This helps us connect and fills any company communication gaps that may occur at check-in meetings.
During these quarterly meetings, I talk with each person and go over a plan to ensure Michigan Creative is helping them reach their personal, professional and financial goals. Communication is something that can make or break a business. Our core values clear the pathway for our team to have clear communication with both our clients and team.
There is a rhythm to fostering company culture whether your team is in the office or working remotely. A thriving business will make it a necessity to narrow down its core values and find ways to spark connections between its teams. That is the company culture that makes businesses stand out. That is the company culture that we have worked so hard to create here at Michigan Creative.
Brian Town spent the last 17 years filling young minds with the knowledge of media and video. Although a teacher at heart, Brian made the decision to leave his current position to venture into a new direction with Michigan Creative. Over the last ten years, Brian worked to compile a team. But not just any creative team. He worked to craft a team of 15 creative people who fit a set of core values that our company now lives by.