Our values create an environment for us to push boundaries, create remarkable work, and build a better world. Read on as COO, Charlotte Hamill, outlines why and how we codified our culture here at Born.
At the end of 2018 we reached a pivotal point. We delivered by far our best work ever. We proved to ourselves that when we did, we’re an industry leading, award-winning agency. But if we’re really honest, we also did some distinctly mediocre work. It was that inconsistency that frustrated us and begged the question “how can we be at our best, not just more, but all of the time?”
Of course we’ve been aware of the power a set of company values can have but we were probably more wary of the pitfalls; generic words plastered on walls representing nothing more than just that.
However, for the first time it felt glaringly obvious that this type of codification of culture is what we needed. Something that we can not only hold up as a reminder of who we are but a set of requirements that can serve as a functional tool we can use as individuals in our daily decision making.
And (pretty much) just like that we decide it was time for Born Social to have values. We also decided that a set of pithy idealistic or faux-aspirational phrases was not what we needed. If they are going to be applied quite literally and specifically to us all as individuals, we needed them to be:
- Realistic - We won’t all be good at them right away and some will come more naturally than others but everyone should be capable of achieving them.
- Restrictive - At times they should feel difficult and constrictive, even stop us from doing things altogether. If they don’t, what purpose are they really serving?
- A choice - If they’re realistic it means we have a choice in every situation whether or not to use them. Frankly, choosing not to cannot be acceptable.
How we created them is a whole other blog (but if you want to know, drop us an email) so for now we’ll just tell you what they are.
SEE CHALLENGE AS OPPORTUNITY
This is our attitude. To be clear, it is not a value of optimism. Seeing opportunity is to understand a challenge, to identify what you can do to impact it and what stands to be gained if you do. Opportunities are not given, they are sought out and seized. People who demonstrate this value see that all challenges contain potential opportunities and they take them every time, without being coaxed or convinced by others.
SAY IT SIMPLY
This is how we communicate - honest, clear, confident. When we talk, we’re comfortable enough in our knowledge to speak simply. We don’t hide behind complexity or use jargon to prove we’re experts. We hate filler words and apologetic language - sort of, basically, obviously, you know - that don’t mean anything and serve only to muddy or undermine our points. We know our audience and always make sure we are understood. When we lack knowledge, we help others say it simply. We listen, check our understanding, ask questions, if we don’t know something, we say so.
DO WHAT WE SAY
‘Talk is cheap’, ‘actions speak louder than words’… It’s not new. When you join Born Social, our trust is fully given. It is yours to lose. When a client partners with us, it is our responsibility to win it. Trust is both won and lost by doing what you say you’re going to do. We do not over sell, we set accurate KPI’s and create and deliver strategies that will hit them. Fundamentally, we value people with integrity that we can rely on. So whether it’s personally, for clients or as a company, if we say it, we do it.
MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER
Our focus on developing one another is not just because we have a culture of genuinely caring. It’s because we want to be f*cking great. We’re only as good as the people around us and you can only get so far on your own. Excellence is unlocked through marginal gains and daily progression so we commit to being each other’s harshest critics and biggest fans. This looks like candid feedback, high expectations, sharing of learnings and importantly support and appreciation.
This value is different from all the others. The others are about us and the things we need to do to be our best selves, the best team, and do our best work. This value is bigger than that.
It ensures we grow right. It takes our focus beyond Born Social and cements our commitment to doing what’s just, not what’s easy or immediately self-serving. Consciously Contribute means we recognise the bigger ecosystem we exist in and everything that’s in it but most of all we proactively work to impact it positively.
Now begins the hard work of baking these five principles into the everyday of everything we do. We’d be lying to say the prospect isn’t intimidating. But we couldn’t be more confident in our determination to be the world’s leading social media agency - it's what keeps us going.