Growing Together in Our Ideals
Author: Anna King
An organization’s values are the foundation from which culture is built. These identifying qualities can be named and called out or exist unarticulated. Ultimately, values, or ideals as we call them, are just words without intentional action to make them a living part of any team.
In October of last year, the Integrated Work team came together for a staff retreat and began the process of more intentionally living into our ideals. Our organizational ideals developed over many years and were somewhat clear. However, they sat more in the background of our daily work lives. Our leadership team worked together to more clearly define and name our ideals in a way that respects our history and progress from the past 20 years and also establishes a strong path for the future. We came up with the following:
- Human First
- Heart of Service
- Integrity, Always
- Impact, Amplified
- Growing Together
- Integrated Work
The ideals above are working well for us because they are: 1) Clear in the words they use, 2) Simple and easy to remember, and 3) Meaningful in that they truly represent the spirit of who we are as an organization and where we are headed.
Our ideals are something we refer to regularly and weave into nearly all conversations. For example, the ideal of amplifying impact is a topic of conversation across all projects now. When it comes to integrity, our team is reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. We meet for informal book group conversations to uncover how we can be vulnerable, build trust, and have courageous conversations together. Because we are humans first, we do our best to give one another the benefit of the doubt and support those who are going through struggles. And finally, growing together means we explore and adapt how we work together internally and with clients. We have shifted our approach to staff meetings and are incorporating new tools, strategies, and visuals into our client projects.
A great company culture attracts talented staff and influences their loyalty and retention. Culture also directs staff behaviors that affect productivity, quality, and job satisfaction. An organization’s culture can encourage connection, collaboration, innovation; shapes the organization’s reputation, and provides a ‘barometer’ for function and dysfunction. Culture encourages or discourages innovation and healthy risk-taking.
If your organization is in the position of wanting to clarify, refine, or live more fully into your ideals consider exploring the questions below:
- What qualities or behaviors have benefited us thus far and made us who we are?
- What do we really want to achieve in the world, and what ideals will increase our ability to have a greater impact?
- How do we need to interact with one another internally and externally to ensure positive relationships exist across staff members, in the organization as a whole, and with external stakeholders, partners, or clients?
- How can our ideals become part of our daily conversations, during meetings, in our work, and in all interactions with others?
Reexamining ideals draws a line between who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. When organizations are intentional about how they want to be with one another as a team and in the world, possibilities open up. Teams with a firm sense of themselves and where they are headed can achieve great things!