2017 is here, and with it a clean slate. Many of us at Aimclear have defined personal resolutions. Organizationally, the new year offers an opportunity to set goals and to motivate and hold each other accountable to achieving those goals.
With growth in mind, we want to provide an inside look at our company values and the process we went through to codify them. In sharing our values publicly, we’re not only more accountable to each other, but also to you: our clients, colleagues and friends. For those embarking on a similar value-defining endeavor, we hope the details will be useful on your journey.
Aimclear has never been quiet about the things we hold near and dear. Quite the opposite, in fact. Marty first shared his managerial wisdom in 2011 in “Manage Like You’re Dying: A Humbled Entrepreneur’s Reflections.” These principles became our guiding philosophies. In 2015, he published a candid self-critique of adherence to our company values, amending them to reflect a maturing business. Even now, our philosophies are just a short scroll down the About Aimclear page, laid bare for every potential employee, client and partner to see.
Our latest project to define Aimclear’s values began last spring and recently culminated in the unveiling of posters in each office. Why another update? It’s important to ensure values align with the reality of a growing company in an industry marked by daily change. We also sought to involve our employees, the people who would be living and breathing these principles on a daily basis. Finally, we sought to make statements succinct, memorable and, as a result, easier to uphold. So how’d we do it?
Goal: Define the values that guide how we operate within our teams and with our clients in a brief, compelling and memorable way.
- Establish framework: Starting with our previously defined philosophies, the Aimclear leadership team met to distill historical company values, as well as those that have recently emerged organically. These became the framework with which we started the process.
- Engage employees: To ensure our values are universally meaningful, we asked Aimclearians at all levels to participate in the project. Employees were provided the framework as well as a worksheet to prepare for feedback sessions. The worksheet asked each employee to rank value concepts in terms of importance, state what each of their top-ranked concepts means personally and list ideas for other values that represent the company.
- Conduct all-company workshops: Members of the leadership team moderated intense discussions in the Duluth and St. Paul offices regarding the framework and solicited feedback and additional ideas. There was near-universal agreement on the concepts as presented with additional context gleaned from these sessions.
- Finalize core values: Based on employee input, the leadership team refined the framework and developed a set of five cohesive values.
Aimclear’s core values
Our exercise resulted in the following set of values:
- Teamwork, Trust & Transparency
- We win as a team; collaboration is key
- Educate and empower others; pay it forward
- Make others the hero, internally and for clients
- Do What’s Right, Not What’s Easy
- Integrity is not optional; honesty is important
- Do it right or make it right
- Make mistakes and learn from them
- Facts and Data Inform Personal Opinion
- Gut feeling is great; make decisions based on data
- Strong opinions stem from being well-informed
- Be brave; let data support you
- Agile & Organized
- Individuals can be one or the other; a team can be both
- Our industry is fast; we need to be faster
- Have a plan; be ready to pivot
- Be Positive
- There’s no productivity in negativity
Our design team turned these statements into posters, which have been printed, framed and prominently displayed in our offices.
Our values define who we are, how we approach our work and are the foundation for how we approach our partnerships. Posting is a great start. What’s more impressive is team members have since cited the values to drive the decision making process and recognize others’ achievements. What better validation that the time spent on this project was well worth it?!