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Centering Our Values

Group of trepwise team members and clients meeting at an outdoor table.

In 2022, Trepwise embarked on an ambitious rebranding project. For us, revamping our brand wasn’t just about color palettes and an updated logo, but an opportunity to dive deep into who we are as a company. How do we describe our unique approaches? What things do we stand for? What about us makes us Trepwise and not just any consulting company?

In addition to strengthening our mission and vision statements, we collaboratively identified six values that define how we work together and with clients. These values can be distilled into keywords–Humanity, Authenticity, Collaboration, Curiosity, Agility, and Rigor. Read more about what these values mean to us here.

Why set values for your organization or company?

Just like your personal values, organizational values guide your everyday decision-making. Values define what makes your organization unique and create shared language for your team. They also contribute to gaining clients or customers, who seek to engage with organizations aligned with their individual beliefs. At Trepwise, we work with purpose-driven organizations and seek to promote equity and a better world, so we need values that hold us accountable to that mission. When setting values for your own organization, start with the why. Once you and your team are aligned on the why behind your work, you can explore the how in your approaches. There is no right or wrong way to communicate your values; we chose to pick keywords with definitions workshopped by the entire team. You could describe your values with in-depth phrases or keep them as key words, whatever works well for your team and mission.

Talk to your community to identify the values they see in your organization.

Whenever you are assessing something about your organization, engaging your community is a great place to start. Consider a survey, testimonials, focus group, or informal interviews to ask your clients, why do you work with us? What do you value most about your experience with us? You may hear unexpected things that will provide insight into creating values for your team to intentionally model moving forward.

Engage all levels of your team in the values-setting process.

To establish values that are organic and genuine, collaborate with your team. Values shouldn’t just be selected from a list or chosen for what sounds good. They must be concepts that your team feels to be true in their work. Consider a survey, poll, or deep think session to collect feedback on the values that guide members towards your collective mission.

At Trepwise, we started with collecting feedback from our staff on our previous values. What felt true? What was missing? What aspirational values do we want to hold ourselves accountable to? This last question brings us to our next point…

Allow some of your values to be aspirational.

Overall, your values should be true to the way you work. At the same time, organizations are always evolving and it is ok to establish values that will take some work to achieve, as long as your team is well-positioned to get there. Perhaps you have the value of inclusivity, but your business model will need to shift to make your services truly accessible to all. Set the value, socialize its definition with your team, and then take the steps to adapt your approaches to realize this concept of inclusivity. Values, in this way, can be a guiding light to move your organization forward towards your purpose. But, how do you know if these values are being acted upon? You must consistently engage with them.

Don’t “set it and forget it” with your values; create a culture grounded in these beliefs.

Establishing the values for your organization should align your team and clients in your why and how, not be a superficial list that lives somewhere buried on your website. At Trepwise, we do this in a few ways. First, our quarterly culture survey taken by all staff members helps us assess how our team feels we are living up to our values. We evaluate if our people feel equipped to live up to our values, if they observe the values in others, as well as other culture checks to ensure we are consistently iterating towards a positive working environment that empowers our best work. Our 360 performance reviews are another way we assess ourselves and each other against our values. Additionally, our weekly team meetings are a time for staff to give “shoutouts” to members who have exemplified our values. Finally, internal committees focused on culture and equity creates space for our team to regularly name opportunities for growth and to implement new ideas.

Are you a leader in your organization? Actions speak louder than words.

While culture checks and performance evaluations are helpful in engaging with your organizational values, the way leaders demonstrate these beliefs in their everyday management has the biggest effect on creating a culture that is authentic to your values. If you lead others within the organization, be sure to reflect on how you are modeling these values, be open to feedback for improvement, and openly acknowledge values-aligned work you see in your team.

Bring in a professional to facilitate the values-setting process with confidence.

You are the expert in what you do, but an external professional can advise on how to translate your expertise into effective language. Although we are a team of consultants, we worked with multiple external experts to guide our rebranding and values-setting process. Outside professionals may be able to see things differently and will bring a fresh perspective to your team. At Trepwise, we start most engagements with a Discovery Phase, a time to convene key stakeholders, ask deep questions, and uncover insights important to the goal at hand. Completing the Discovery Phase with Trepwise will help align your team and community, validate assumptions, and provide a foundation for growth. If you are interested in starting a values-setting process for your organization, contact us today to learn more about how Trepwise can help.