Managing by values is less and less the subject of controversy and – at the same time – more and more companies take up the challenge of working out their own organizational values. But how to make value a real management system, and not art for art’s sake?
Since the nineties of the last century, more and more decision makers in companies recognize management by values as an effective form of managing organizations. At the same time, it often turns out that the values developed by the company “get lost” somewhere, employees do not remember about them, or even are unaware of them. The key problem associated with managing by values is to keep them alive in the organization, enabling employees to retain them in the everyday hustle and bustle of work. An example of a company where values are not just ideas developed on paper, but the key elements that employees interact with every day, is Billennium – a software house employing nearly 1,000 employees in six cities in Poland (Warsaw, Lublin, Łódź, Olsztyn, Bytom and Starogard Gdański) and in India and Malaysia.
What values does Billennium profess?
Billennium has developed five values, around which the organizational culture of the company is being built. They are: creativity, energy, trust, professionalism and development. Professor Marek Bugdol in his publication “Organizational values” draws attention to the fact that the difficulty in managing values results from an abstract approach to organizational values. That is why at Billennium, from the first moment an employee appears at the company, they not only find out what values are important for the company, but also how each of them is interpreted. Each of the values has been described in more detail in the “Code of Fighters of New Ideas”, i.e. a book in the central place of the office, which at the same time – in a slightly smaller format – also goes to every new employee. This is only the first of many moments in which employees have real contact with values, in which they recall what the organizational culture of the company is. Other examples include posters with values and their descriptions hanging on the walls in various places of the office, or even mugs, from which employees drink coffee at work – each of them has one of the company’s values. A very important element is also a competition in which people who stand out especially in nurturing values or working in accordance with them are rewarded.
What are Anvils about?
The internal Billennium contest is called “Anvils,” a name originating from the description of one of the values – professionalism: “look at how with each strike to the anvil, someone sacrifices all their strength and skills to achieve the desired result. Work the same way, be a professional, and only then will you be able to develop.” Each of the company’s values is a category of the competition, which consists of several stages. In the first phase of the competition, each employee can nominate other people or teams, regardless of the position they occupy. Each nomination must be justified. Despite this “obstruction”, this year nearly 30% of employees nominated their colleagues, which proves the importance of the competition in the company’s life. After the nomination phase, the second one takes place, in which the persons and teams most frequently indicated are selected and all employees can cast their votes. The contest solution takes place during an annual event where employees from all locations gather. At a solemn gala, the winners in each category – creativity, energy, trust, professionalism and development – get real anvils and have the opportunity, like at the Oscars awarding ceremony, to give a speech or thank you.
From the feedback of the winners, you can see that the Anvils are indeed a special distinction for them:
“I must admit that I was surprised to receive the prize. I didn’t expect that so many people would notice progress in the area I deal with and appreciate the work I do. Such a distinction is for me a huge motivaton for further work and is a confirmation that what I do makes sense. In addition, it is a great opportunity to celebrate,” says Aleksandra Dąbkowska, Benefits Specialist at Billennium, the winner of the award in the Development category.
“I remember my first Anvils two years ago, during which I thought to myself: “I would also like to receive such an award!” I am glad that this thought has materialized. At the same time, it is important for me that among the values beloved by Billennium is energy, which – as Billennials admitted, nominating me in this category – I don’t lack in and which I try to share with others. And the prize itself will surely remind me of people I work with on a daily basis and from whom I’m constantly learning,” says Patrycja Smagowska, Account Manager at Billennium, the winner of the award in the Energy category.
A daily reminder with a strong emphasis
In the hustle and bustle of everyday work in any company, it is easy to forget about the values that all employees should follow. At the same time, when the company is growing fast, employing new people, it is often difficult to sufficiently familiarize them with the assumptions of organizational values and, especially in the initial phase, help them to observe those values. Therefore, it is important that these values not only exist “somewhere” on paper, not only in the vision of top-level managers, but also in the everyday life of the whole team. The tools presented above – posters, items used in the office, the Code of Fighters of New Ideas, serve exactly this purpose. The Anvils themselves are the most spectacular element, reminding of values with greatest force, showing that the company really wants to appreciate the people who are driven by them, and, in addition, they are simply fun for the employees.