The companies that you love buying products or services from have as much to do with how you feel about the company as it does the product or service you buy. That awesome trucker hat from Patagonia that I spent $35 on comes to mind for me but I digress.
People work for companies because of what that brand represents and the people in the organization that make it come to life. Great companies are borne out of strong principle foundations, where the brand transcends the product or service. And where the people that make it happen are connected to the purpose, not the product. When that happens, companies have the freedom to experiment. Examples could include: building a trucker hat, a smartphone, a tablet, or opening a retail store.
The principles that Stride is built upon have more to do with how we want to be as an organization, regardless of our product or service. I am going to share with you our beliefs and how we work. For clarification, principles are the frame of the company, the norms of how we work with each other, ourselves, and our customers. They are the filter for which decisions get made and actions are taken. Principles was made famous recently by Ray Dalio, in his book, Principles. If you are interested in a good excerpt, you can find it here.
Rather than overwhelming employees with a laundry list of principles that they will never remember, we operate as follows:
- Create a place for employees to contribute to new principle ideas (that can be upvoted) – we use canny.io
- Agree on and announce a Principle of the Month and focus on it
- Provide concrete examples of ways that Principle can be implemented
- Employees contribute ideas for how that Principle can be actualized
- Build a living repository of Principles that are not only statements, but clear examples of what it means to live them
Here are our recent principles that show up in our actions internally and with our customers:
Make and Honor Commitments: This principle refers to promises we make to our clients as well as to our own internal goals. It speaks to people taking accountability and owning their commitment so that others in the organization can focus on their objectives.
Wisdom of the Group (WOG): It really all starts here. A group of people coming together to solve a problem will generally have a better outcome than anyone operating in isolation. WOG does not imply a democracy but it does honor input.
We Invest in Ourselves and Each Other: Companies are driven by people with lives that are bigger than their work. But work needs to be a place where we all feel that we can thrive in life. We work internally and with our clients to discuss ways in which we can improve each other’s lives. That can be in areas of health, relationships or any aspiration.
Celebrate Wins. Celebrate Each Other: Celebration is a requirement on the journey to achieving our vision of helping companies achieve financial freedom. That is not just internal celebration but also with our clients. Celebrating client milestones is so important, whether that be hitting their financial goals or receiving an award, or finally having their books in the best shape ever.
Empowerment: Empowerment is a big one for us and that is about giving people authority at any level to make decisions and take action if they are closest to the impact of that action. When people do not feel empowered, they lose creativity and autonomy and that is exactly the opposite of what we want in our company and the companies we serve.
And the next one is…….well, you’ll have to keep reading the blog for when we roll out the next Principle of the Month at Stride. By making this public, we are agreeing to holding ourselves to a standard that our clients can expect from us everyday. It is together that we fulfill our purpose.