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Corporate Values Matter

As the company’s anniversary approached, I spent some time reflecting on the many things we have achieved over the 15+ years.

I was recently asked what I would do differently today in starting this business. “Probably everything” was my response. And it is true. But one thing that I wouldn’t change, and what I am most proud of, is our culture, described through corporate values.
It’s not that we have them and that they are good (they are). It’s that they were created many years ago as a company-wide collaboration and that that they are still as valid today as they were then. In fact at Y Soft, we don’t call them corporate values.

Corporate values are found on a poster somewhere in the cafeteria and forgotten about. Instead, we call them the YSoft Six Attitudes. These attitudes are more like personal characteristics. Strong, effective teams can do much more together and create a great working atmosphere when these attitudes are common and shared among the individuals.

Our Six Attitudes in action
For us, these attitudes reflect how we approach people whether they are employees, customers, partners or suppliers. We focus on high ethical business standards, fairness, enthusiasm, hard work and openness. You can read about our “corporate values” here. These fundamental characteristics guide our thinking and decision making. I still believe that while management may create the vision, strategy and mission, the values, or attitudes, are created by people.

After reading our Six Attitudes, you may wonder why making customers happy is not included or even mentioned. While continually delighting and ensuring customers are happy is an important thing, we don’t exist to make customers happy. Happy customers are a natural outcome when our people have the Six Attitudes.

Why it is so important?
Anyone who has interviewed at Y Soft may not realize that our evaluation process includes assessing a comfortable fit with these attitudes. As employees, quarterly performance evaluations contain a section for assessing against each of the six core attitudes in addition to performance. It’s that important to us. Why?

There is a high cost to hiring employees – I’m not talking about salaries, yes there is that – but I mean the amount of time and effort that goes into training them. We invest in people because there is a business need. Having these attitudes up close and personal as part of our performance reviews keeps them as an integral part of our business; the attitudes play a large role in defining our culture.

Evaluating on performance and culture gives 4 possible outcomes:
  • Great performance/great culture
  • Poor performance/poor culture
  • Poor performance/great culture
  • Great performance/poor culture

The first two possible outcomes are easy decisions. The third (poor performance/great culture) has the potential to change performance for the positive with some guidance and willingness. The fourth possible outcome, great performance/poor culture, is the most difficult; every manager likes to have great performers on the team and may be tempted to overlook the poor culture.

We have all probably come across someone who fits the fourth outcome. The issue here is that poor culture is not an individual concern. It affects those around the person in a negative way and for this reason, it really is dangerous.

By having the attitudes as part of the review, the manager cannot overlook the poor culture since reviews are evaluated at the management team level. Nor can the employee, since bonuses related to the attitudes are part of the overall review. This fourth outcome then is really a red flag that cannot be overlooked and has to be addressed – though it is human nature to ignore them.

The relationship between great performance and great culture has some valuable outcomes. I’ve mentioned happy customers but also employee shareholder value and profits – but I see this as very nice by-products. It is the team result that matters as there is trust, alignment of purpose and a shared energy.

The next time you talk with any member of the Y Soft team, ask about our corporate values. They’ll make me proud all over again.
Vaclav Muchna
Head YSofter and global traveler visiting customers, partners and employees around the world. When in Brno, he often oversees company BBQs in the summer and is known for destroying his skis during the winter.
View all posts by Vaclav Muchna

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