My first day at EnvisionUP was just days after I had moved to a brand new city. I was nervously excited and looking forward to getting to know my new coworkers and the clients that I would be working with.
Based on past experience, I assumed I would attend a brief meeting that would give an even briefer company history lesson. Then we’d all go on with business as usual.
Little did I know that I was about to dive into a full five weeks of learning about and embodying EnvisionUP’s core values, which would become my own.
The Importance of Core Values
I had always known that core values were important for companies to have, but I’d never worked anywhere where they were not only talked about, but experienced.
Our Creative Director and Director of Culture, Gurjot Bhuller, along with my new boss Todd Jamieson, came up with five activities that each reflected a core value.
“We wanted to make it fun and hands-on,” Todd explained to me. “We wanted people to feel the values.” It was certainly a refreshing change from a typical, stale slide presentation like I was half-expecting.
Week One: Always Be Learning
This core value I experienced right away. Within my first week I took part in multiple certification courses I didn’t even know existed. My fingers cramped from the amount of notes I took; I was so eager to keep all the information and not miss a thing.
In an industry such as Internet marketing and web design, there is no stopping, no slowing down. Everything is changing, and I mean constantly. What worked six months ago in terms of lead conversion very likely won’t work now, meaning we have to change too.
We’re in an environment where continuous improvement is not just expected; it’s required. Otherwise, you’re guaranteed to fall behind. So it was a big game of catch-up for me in the beginning. It still is! I read ebooks on content marketing, I watch instructional videos on using Google Analytics, and I always have one or two browser tabs loaded with articles on how to create the perfect title or a dictionary to double-check my word usage.
Amidst all my other industry-related education, the first core value activity was all about learning new things you wouldn’t normally know. For example: why does a zebra have stripes? What would a 185 lb person weigh on Mars?
It didn’t take long for all of us to deteriorate into laughter and discussion about the facts we were learning; we could hardly believe most of them! I loved that instead of simply being told I had to learn constantly, I was put in an environment with my coworkers where we actually actively learned.
Week Two: Be Real. Have Fun. Don’t Be A Robot.
I’ve never liked those scripted, one-size fits all attitudes when it comes to working with people – whether clients or coworkers – or writing content. You never get the best results if people are forced to follow a strict guideline that isn’t adaptable.
So imagine my relief when I realized that everyone at EnvisionUP infused their professional work with a little bit of personality. This could be as simple as solving a problem a little differently, or being in touch with a client’s interests.
This was demonstrated through our second week of core value activities. We were given a series of scenarios relating to either a work situation, or the occasional personal question, and were tasked with solving/answering it in our own way.
When we got together to read through them, we realized that we all had slightly different ways of handling situations, completing tasks, and making decisions. And that is perfectly fine.
Week Three: Do More With Less
No one in the world has more than 24 hours in a day. When you’re a small business like EnvisionUP, you have to make your hours count so that you can provide the best service to the clients.
I used to be a procrastinator – not anymore! I learned very quickly that from the time I arrive in the morning to the time I leave in the evening, I had to be constantly on the move, ready to adapt at a moment’s notice.
That’s what makes the systems we use to valuable. Using Google Drive for our work is not only fiscally responsible, it makes collaborating with my coworkers a snap, and I can do it from anywhere. It’s the same for our project management system. We can document our progress and keep track of every detail.
With these and so many more fantastic Internet marketing tools at my disposal, this core value and the corresponding activity became a fun challenge.
For one week, each member of the team was assigned three theoretical tasks and four hours in which we could complete them. Each task had four options, and each option would give you or take away hours. The goal was to choose which option you would use, without running out of hours.
Still very fresh-faced in week three, there were some tasks I admit I had no idea who should do, let alone what tools should be used. But I wasn’t afraid to ask, and I learned about more web tools our company uses and what tasks would work for me.
When we got together to discuss our answers, I learned even more about the nuances of my coworkers jobs and how smart we had to be about using our time.
Week Four: Think Like A Client
By week four I was happily settling in, but still had a lot to experience. As a newcomer, I was still relatively unfamiliar with many of our clients, and I was really looking forward to our ‘Think Like a Client’ core value activity.
I, like everyone else here, firmly believe that customer support is our number one priority. To provide that level of commitment requires being able to get into the headspace of our clients. What do they want? What do they need? These are questions I have to answer all the time, and I was looking forward to hearing from a client.
We arranged to speak via phone with a business owner who has been with EnvisionUP for a long time. I was shocked by how much I was able to learn when we asked him what he looked for in an Internet marketing company.
He confirmed that it was important to have a company that looked out for his best interests, but he also stressed the importance of having a frequent, open dialogue between himself and the people he was trusting with his marketing needs.
That is something I never actively thought about. But it is something EnvisionUP does, constantly. Clients are given regular updates about their marketing plans, web development progress, or whatever services they are receiving from us. It was reassuring to know that clients like that about us, and we’re on the right track.
Week Five: Succeed As A Team
This was the big one; the grand finale. I could hardly believe these activities were coming to a close, let alone that I had already been working at EnvisionUP for five weeks. It felt like no time at all.
Our last and perhaps most involved activity was all about succeeding as a team. This isn’t just about working together instead of on our own; it’s also about celebrating our successes collectively. It was a value I could get behind.
You can imagine how curious I was about how this core value could be incorporated into an activity. You can also imagine my surprise when I found out we would be throwing a mock potluck party for a client, and we each had to randomly select a role.
Everyone was out of their comfort zone; for example, one of our developers became the project manager. Myself? I became the accountant. It became my responsibility to present an expense budget for all of the ingredients everyone would use for their dishes, collect receipts, prepare a comparison, and handle reimbursement. Talk about learning on the job!
While the client part was just imaginary, the potluck part was true, and by the time we were ready to eat, we had all successfully created a fun party, complete with entertainment. It became a group celebration of our core value completion.
Living Our Core Values
Our five weeks of core value activities may be over, but we never stop discussing them. We constantly look for ways to incorporate them into everything we do.
Our job is to do the best we can for our clients, and our core values are a big part of why we are able to provide quality services day in and day out. I know that the way I learned about EnvisionUP’s core values made me truly understand them, and how important they are when it comes to doing my best for our clients.