5 Ways to Build a Values-Driven Company with Ted Blosser, CEO & Co-Founder, WorkRamp
December 28, 2023
Learning Tips Straight to Your Inbox
Building a values-driven company isn’t just about creating a catchy mission statement or hanging motivational posters around the office.
It’s about ingraining values into the very fabric of your organization. In our CEO Series episode of the LEARN Podcast, Ted Blosser, WorkRamp’s CEO and Co-Founder, dives deep into his top five tips for building a values-driven company, drawing from his personal experiences and lessons learned from tech industry leaders.
In this post:
1. Build values around the founder’s DNA
Ted shares that in the early days of WorkRamp, he took an egalitarian approach to creating company values. He gathered all the employees (5 or 6 at the time) and encouraged them to brainstorm what was important to them. This resulted in a set of 11 values that were representative of all WorkRamp employees.
While inclusive, this approach ended up backfiring because Ted didn’t believe in three or four values. “I realized if I didn’t believe in them, I wasn’t going to push them hard as a CEO and Founder,” he says. “It became a waste of an exercise, and we didn’t get far with those values from a group-based approach.”
Instead, Ted recommends building values around the founder’s DNA to ensure authenticity and alignment within the organization.
“When we got serious about values, Arsh [Mand] (WorkRamp’s CTO and Co-Founder) and I sat down and asked what we care about as founders,” Ted says. “What values represent us?”
From this process, Ted and Arsh came up with four values that haven’t changed since:
- Always be improving
- Operational excellence
- One team
- Customer focus
2. Use values, not operating manuals
Ted cautions against using operating manuals to govern work. Instead, he stresses the importance of using values to set the context within which employees can exercise autonomy and make decisions, avoiding excessively prescriptive instructions.
Ted learned this from an executive coach who told him, “From a leadership perspective, we shouldn’t use or need to have the ability to send out operating manuals to govern how people work,” Ted shares. “And she had a great point that stuck with me ever since. She said ‘the reason you have values in a company is to govern how people work and how you want them to work. And what you want to do is anchor around those values. They set great context but then let people figure out how to work within that context.
“‘They don’t want to be told what to do. They want to know the North Star of your values and will adapt to them. They’ll remember those, and they’ll be able to work in the way you want them to work.'”
By anchoring work culture around values, employees are empowered to act in alignment with the company’s core principles.
Read more: 3 Ways to Build a High-Performance Culture
3. Constantly reinforce your values
Company values shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it initiative; instead, leaders and employees must live, breathe, and talk about them all the time.
Ted shares four examples of how the team reinforces company values at WorkRamp.
- #Props Slack channel. Managers and employees share how colleagues, reports, and team members live WorkRamp’s values. There are generally about 10 to 15 messages in this channel per week.
- Command Center. The values are front and center on the company’s Intranet, so employees are reminded of them every time they pull up the page.
- Recruiting. While screening new prospects, the recruiting team rates candidates according to company values.
- Performance reviews. One of the criteria during reviews is how an individual lives and breathes the company’s values.
By reinforcing values into day-to-day tasks and company culture, you can help keep them on mind and ensure employees operate based on these principles.
4. Don’t let the tail wag the dog
Ted cautions against allowing new voices or short-term trends to dilute or modify the core values that define the organization’s identity.
“You want to make sure you don’t allow the tail, a small part of the organization, to override the direction the dog is headed,” he says. “People want to bring in new values because everyone brings in new voices.
“It’s not saying new voices are bad, but you don’t want to allow those voices and new values to override your existing values. You may see new values creep into the organization, but defend against that to uphold your original values. Otherwise, you become a hodgepodge of many different values and lose your core identity.”
As organizations grow and evolve, preserving the core values and preventing smaller parts of the organization from steering away from established values is essential.
5. Don’t change or add to your values often
It’s natural to feel a tendency to change your values, especially at the beginning of the year, like New Year’s Resolutions. Still, Ted recommends resisting this urge and keeping your values intact.
“I highly recommend that you rarely change the values,” he says. “I would say the shelf life of your value should be 3 to 5 years at a minimum where you’re not changing them. Otherwise, they’re not your values because you don’t live and breathe them all the time.
“After that shelf life, it’s OK to change those values. But don’t do it often. You want to fight against that tendency to change your values based on the direction the wind is blowing, but make sure that, if you are going to make a change, that’s very well thought out and that that new value you’re bringing in is going to have a 3- to 5-year shelf life, from there.”
This highlights the significance of upholding the integrity of foundational values amidst organizational evolution.
Building a value-driven organization
The term company culture is often overused but under-realized. Ted’s insights offer practical strategies for building a values-driven company that goes beyond just words on the wall.
It’s about living and breathing those values, day in and day out, in every aspect of the organization’s operations and interactions.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
- WorkRamp Announces WorkRamp Communities, the Latest Addition to Its Learning Cloud, Centralizing Customer Learning on One Platform February 27, 2024
- WorkRamp Communities is Available Now: Scale Knowledge, Gain Feedback, and Create a Central Hub for all Your Customer Learning February 27, 2024
- 3 Sales Rep Ramp-Up Strategies to Get Productive Faster February 23, 2024
- 33 Examples of Employee Strengths and Weaknesses + How to Improve Them February 20, 2024
- 9 Examples of Employee Development Plans to Uplevel Your Team February 16, 2024
Maile TimonContent Strategist, WorkRamp
Maile Timon is WorkRamp’s Content Strategist. She has over 10 years of experience in content marketing and SEO and has written for several publications and industries, including B2B, marketing, lifestyle, health, and more. When she’s not writing or developing content strategies, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
You might also like
Try these strategies to improve employee engagement and performance
Companies with strong cultures see greater employee engagement and increased productivity. Learn to create a culture that promotes growth, helps you retain top talent, and drives results.
Leveraging L&D to set your team up for success
Use these L&D strategies to future-proof your organization and retain skilled team members.
The winning formula: community, culture, & talent development
Kat Steinmetz, Principal, Initialized Capital, shares strategies that enable success, like building strong employee communities, creating a great workplace culture, and hiring and developing top talent.