By Suvi Widgren, CEO at Smartum
A year ago, when I started as a manager at Smartum, I saw the values of the company back then on our office wall. After a couple of weeks of exploring the house, I began to question those values. The values were not reflected in the company's culture or operating methods. I asked where they were born and how the staff were committed to them. I got the answer that values were formed by the board and nobody was really committed to them. Another comment came directly from our client, who wanted to highlight a malfunction in our business. He was not happy and indicated that we did not at all live up to our values, which we openly presented on our website. Right! I can say I was ashamed at that point.
Old values for trash
The values really matter. They are not beautiful or desired decorative statements on the office wall but must be visible and felt right up to the customer. I asked our team, what if we were to take these bland values off the wall and on the web, throw them in the trash and form the true values that reflect us? That's what we did. We have been in a "valueless state" for almost a year and now we have created new values. The values of Smartum that each of us can stand strong in front of. Values guide our operations and are directly reflected in our relations with our customers. When values are born together, they also want to live together on a daily basis. Smartum's entire staff was involved in defining the values. As a result, nearly 20 values were generated, and based on that, the Executive Team summed them up in a few values. Our approach to working on values also reduces the potential for value conflict between a company and its employees. This is extremely important because value conflicts have a strong impact on employees' feelings and is passed on to their customers. You can read more about our values workflow in our blog post by Smartum Customer Success Director Minna Rantama and Brand Experience Director Eija (Epi) Ring.
Can the CEO cry when the staff introduce new values?
New values as an important part of the journey of change
We launched our new values for the entire house in a separate event and Smartum owners and board members also attended. Can the CEO cry when the staff introduce new values? Well, this is probably not very common but I was really moved. A shiver went through my body and I felt so proud of our group. At the same time, in many moments I shook my head at the kind of change journey we've had in a year. The comments from the owners and founders of our company were of the same class. "Fantastic! After all, this is a return to the roots, the very attitude that we once strived for and created the entire tax-exempt labor market, changed Finnish tax legislation and built better well-being at work since 1995. ” May I introduce the new values of Smartum:
Dare to be genuine.
Loves the unknown.
Bravery puts a lion on the table.
Return to the roots and toward full deformation in the stronger Smartum. Here are our values, which at least make it easy for me to live every day in my own life.
From this moment on, values begin to be a reality in us, in our culture, in our making and, above all, in our customers. We are only at the beginning of our story and values must be reflected in our actions. It's wonderful that there are so many of us on our journey.
We found that it is important that values are expressed in a style that is unique to us. They appeal to emotions and everyone is able to tell them through their own words and examples. We made an ex tempore video for the company to publish our values, with the majority of our staff members. It was touching that so many went into the video at a very short notice, and people were truly themselves. They were present and boldly looked straight at the camera without showing anything. Straight gaze is extremely powerful and connects us to deeper levels. The video culminated in different people expressing our values with their own voice, and at the same time, serious faces turned into smiles and laughter, telling us all that we already live up to our values and work to make everyone’s (working) life meaningful. From this moment on, values begin to be a reality in us, in our culture, in our making and, above all, in our customers. We are only at the beginning of our story and values must be reflected in our actions. It's wonderful that there are so many of us on our journey.
Genuine, curious, courageous and open-minded Smartum Managing director
This article was written for the Smartum blog and is translated from Finnish.