Walking the Culture Talk: How We Developed Our New Values and EVP
We’ve updated our company’s values and Employee Value Proposition (EVP) –and learned plenty in the process.
At the core of an organization sits its DNA, which includes its purpose, values and Employee Value Proposition (EVP). A strong DNA can inspire, provide clarity and accelerate growth. And for the last decade, our purpose, values and EVP have done just that for our organization.
But the world has changed– and so has Prophet. More than 60% of our colleagues started during the global pandemic. We’ve evolved from a brand strategy firm into a growth and transformation consulting firm, with a newly defined purpose. And, the needs of our clients have rapidly changed, which is why we recently redefined our values and EVP.
Our new cultural touchstones are more modern, inclusive and transparent and directly connect to our aspiration as a firm. And while our values are not the right ones for every organization, we are proud of how we lived them out through the process of defining them. We believe there are valuable lessons for others looking to reinvigorate their organization through this kind of work.
Four Best Practices for Creating Strong Values, as Shaped by Prophet’s New Values
Create with Courage
When something could be better, we don’t settle– we create. Pushing boundaries. Tackling the biggest challenges that grow our clients and move society. We put our heart into our work while applying our intellect, creativity and rigor to execute.
To power your talent strategy and drive top line growth, you need to be bold about your values. Ask yourself: “what are the mindsets and behaviors we need to connect our teams and power our business?” Create with Courage, Open minds, Give and Grow, Share Joy.
At Prophet, our mission is to help our clients unlock uncommon growth. So, we challenged ourselves to not just evolve our values but to also step back and connect each value to that growth. Specifically our new value, Create with Courage, was created to help give every Propheteer the common language and inspiration to push boundaries and tackle the biggest challenges that face our clients and society.
That courage also takes dedication. We expanded Prophet’s visual identity to create an “uncommon visual system”. We are measuring their presence to ensure we deliver our new values. We have updated our quarterly employee engagement survey to measure the impact our new values and EVP have on our employees. We will also be updating our external client survey to see how they are impacting the work and being experienced by our clients.
We’re united, but different, which allows us and our clients to achieve more together. It’s in our nature to seek diverse voices and embrace all backgrounds and lived experiences. By showing up honestly and openly, we discover new paths for connection and creativity.
Values can’t be written in a boardroom. If everyone at the organization truly owns them, then your people’s voices need to play an important role in shaping them. This can be more difficult as your organization becomes more digital, global and hopefully diverse.
We took a highly inclusive approach to develop our new values. We wanted to make sure we heard not only the distinct perspectives of our organization but also the new ways we work together. We used both synchronous and asynchronous input mechanisms and leveraged co-creative digital tools to maximize reach and input opportunities across our new hybrid organization.
Our value, Open Minds, takes the traditional adjective of being open-minded and makes it a verb, encouraging each of us to actively open the minds of others and elevate voices that need to be heard. Working with our head of DEI, we brought that lens to our full set of values to make sure they resonated and created psychological safety for our community.
We also worked with our global leaders to ensure our values and EVP reflected our global organization. To do so, we collaborated with our international colleagues to translate our values into Mandarin Chinese and German to ensure the translation reflected the true meaning of our values.
Give and Grow
There’s no shortage of generosity here. We invest in the personal and professional growth of our people and our clients, by being a coach, a sounding board or a cheering section. We all have unique needs and goals, but we’re in this together- and by offering our time, empathy and brainpower to support the collective potential of our teams, clients and communities, we all flourish together.
Introducing and living new values and EVP is a long-term journey, which is why they need to be aspirational but clearly define the path forward.
Our value, Give and Grow, is anchored in the truth of our business. How we drive uncommon growth is through our people. And our people require support in their growth pathways to continue living out our purpose. Prioritizing the investment we make in each other and celebrating that outcome is critical to our success. When asked what makes Prophet different, this willingness to support each other, our clients and our communities sings loud.
But we’re not done, and we have room to grow across all of our values. Through our research, we have identified which parts of our business resonate with each value most to guide how we invest in creating new tools and guidance in strengthening our connection.
One immediate change we made was connecting our new values directly with our kudos system. Within days, we saw everyone take ownership of the values and recognize each other for living their values. We were able to transform our kudos system on our company intranet into a self-sustaining storytelling system.
Joy is vital– to our relationships, our work and our well-being. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, enjoying the ride, while making time for what brings us joy. Protecting it. Sharing it. It feeds our spirits, and keeps us connected to what, and who, really matters to us. By building in more space for rest, community and fun, our humanity shines a little brighter.
Values and EVP should be fun! Joy is vital to work and what keeps people energized for whatever is to come. Of course, it’s important to prioritize clarity over cleverness, but having values that reflect your organization’s culture is paramount.
We had quite a bit of fun making our values. Of course, the core team that built them enjoyed many puns, a mid-workstream magic show, moments of in-person collaboration and the rush of creativity in delivering exciting work.
But we made sure to share that joy with the rest of the organization. Leading up to the launch, we offered a “tease” previewing fake values, including values that we would never have used like, “likability.” At the launch, we made light of some old habits from our previous values and encouraged “uncommon” attire that worked perfectly for one office’s Halloween party.
We also gave out individually uncommon hip packs made from sustainable materials filled with custom decks of cards that reflected the unique shuffles we made as a team. The kick-off was a communal, celebratory and exciting moment for our team.
While Prophet’s new values and EVP are specific to our culture, any organization can benefit from the experience of updating its values and EVP. Make a start by securing the support of top leadership, then build cross-functional teams who vow to become expert listeners. From there, construct the values and EVP that will attract the people best suited to bring your purpose to life. But it doesn’t stop there – like anything living, your DNA needs to be fueled to fuel your business so find ways to embed it across all parts of your culture.