On my 5.3 nautical miles cycle to work this morning, I started to think about the customer service I received at Pret a Manager last week. After ordering my drinks, the server delightedly told me that I had “won a competition for wearing orange” and then gave me my drinks for free. I told her it was also my birthday (thinking I might get the whole order for free) but instead I got a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday from the entire team. A team clearly happy where they worked and who thoroughly enjoyed engaging with their customers. On their website, their team members are described as the “heart and soul” of the company and “If they stop caring, our business goes down the drain.” I had heard of the Pret effect but never experienced it. Now Pret a Manger will be my coffee shop of choice as I loved my experience there so much.
The unique culture and core values that are deeply rooted at INVOLVE has affected me both professionally and personally. My previous company (who shall remain nameless apart from to say they were a TV station whose flagship show was “Topless Darts”) had no core values. They primary purpose was to maximise profit. ‘People’ came way down the list. No wonder their staff turnover was so high. What INVOLVE have created is a culture “where people can be themselves, where they feel confident, safe and respected, where they can be happy” (Raymond Klompsma –“The power of company culture & core values”).
But I digress, it was week 4 in our living the values competition and it was time to galvanise the team. Throughout the week there were several activities for everyone to get involved in. Our resident Canadian Justin was most passionate about Shrove Tuesday and treated us to the delights of American Pancakes smothered in maple syrup. Rachel, our new business manager, tried her hand at making Crepes. We had a rowing competition that was taken a bit too seriously amongst the ‘sportsmen’ of the office, a Pancake Art competition judged by our lovely client David Reilly from Mars and won by our wonderful intern Chirag and a Charity Bake Off. It was a real working as a team week.
Ellie and her Mars team were the stars of the office as they continuously radiated positive energy and effectiveness whilst putting the final touches to their project. Justin was on fire; making work fun and plugging shamelessly for votes. In fact the only value that was a bit neglected was Pioneering. That seems to be the hardest value to live on daily basis. I imagine it’s because everyone thinks Pioneering = Big Changes. But pioneering doesn’t have to be drastic – it can be small things like re-designing a document, taking risks or stepping out of your comfort zone.
So see what you can achieve today; “Dream, Dare, Believe and Do” (Disney’s founding and existing core values )
It has been a fabulous 5 weeks at INVOLVE: 1780km rowed, 42 pancakes tossed, 126 post its posted and 5 values lived in 450 different ways: all in support of our colleague James Prior who has rowed the Atlantic to raise money for Crohns Disease.
Amongst the fun and laughter, there was a serious (and some desperate) attempts from the masses to be involved in the “Pump up the Values” initiative. Everyone in the office received recognition at some point but ultimately there could only be 2 winners who would win the trip to Barbados to welcome James home.
The tension in the office was palpable as we gathered in the meeting room to announce the results. We kicked off proceedings by showing the documentary we made of James getting ready for his epic voyage. I don’t think I was the only one to shed a tear as we saw James saying goodbye to his 4 handsome sons and his very brave wife. The video really hit home about why James was embarking on his challenge and why we, back at the office, were supporting him in our own inimitable way.
Ash had the honour of announcing the results:
“Tom. It’s not you”, “Jonny. It’s not you”, “Rachel. It could be you” and so on, until only 6 people were left. By now our resident Canadian Justin, who was in the final 6, was almost beside himself. Knowing the result already, I quietly left to get him a tissue… The winners; David Ramsbottom (INVOLVE’s creative director) and Mike Miles (INVOLVE’s Head of Visual Involvement) were well deserved. They consistently brought each value to life demonstrating that it was possible to live the values brilliantly whilst doing an exceptional day job.
So, after 5 exhausting weeks (for us not James), the competition draws to close. When we look back at 2014, I’m sure “Pump up the Values” will be the highlight for most people. For those that had just joined INVOLVE, this was a great introduction to our values and for those that have lived with the values for several years, it served as a perfect reminder of why INVOLVE is so unique and why our values are important to us as company. Core values are not rules to follow, they represent who we are.
“Culture really is one of the most important things of your company, it’s who you are, it’s why customers choose you. Build a great company which you would want to do business with yourself. If you get this right, your culture is right. (Raymond Klompsma –“The power of company culture & core values”).