Core values are the principles upon which your every action should be based. They provide a guiding light for the company, each team within the company, and everyone within those teams. Strong core values create a strong culture, and without core values, we are more likely to be individual focused instead of working together for the greater good.
Please note that values and purpose are not the same. We need to have a purpose, and the two need to align, but they are separate and distinct. FireMon’s purpose is to improve security outcomes by improving security operations, and your team has its own distinct purpose within FireMon. But our core values may not be as clear.
Justin Stouder, CTO of FireMon, and his Senior Leadership Team are actively embracing, encouraging, and promoting a custom set of core values for their technology organization to embody while working toward the greater purpose. We would like to share a breakdown of these with you in hopes that we can all exemplify a company culture with strong core values that produce an outcome of excellence for the company, its teams, and everyone.
Justin asked his team: what is important to you from a value perspective and what behaviors do you wish to see in yourself and others? The team produced a long list of characteristics, all admirable and worthy of pursuit for everyone, but they had to distill it down into what they believe are the four most important values to encompass as a team within FireMon. The result? Trust, Ownership, Quality, and Integrity. Here is Justin’s interpretation of each.
First, let’s forget the misconception that “trust is earned.” Here, trust is granted.
Any time you enter a meeting, or any interaction with one of your peers, whether it’s in the technology organization or not, you trust them. If we are operating under the perception that trust is earned, then you are admitting to beginning a relationship from a position of distrust. If you start from a position of distrust, it can take months or even years to fully trust someone. Regarding the business, we will immediately grant trust to our coworkers, respecting one another as human beings. By the nature of how we are made, we will trust one another.
There are many examples of how to build and earn trust over time that are incongruent with my entire approach. So, we’ve agreed that we need to be the leaders in this organization with regards to trust. And if we’re going to do that, we’re going to grant it to everyone, wipe all slates clean, and move forward with the posture that trust is completely granted throughout the entire organization.
If I had to pick the most important core value, ours would be trust.
Ownership means taking responsibility. We admit our mistakes, and we don’t blame others. Each of us has likely been maligned for an assortment of reasons, but instead of choosing to be recalcitrant and defensive, we need to fully own what is ours to own.
When problems arise, often the first thing that comes to mind is: who’s responsible for this? From a negative posture, that is not good, isn’t healthy, and doesn’t scale. Instead, we say, “If this is my responsibility, I will take ownership of it. And I desperately want to find out, because if it’s mine, I want to learn from it.”
Having a desire to learn and not to blame is where ownership really comes in tactically. Let’s talk about the situation. Let’s talk about the problem, the difficulty, the quality of the performance, and any issue we have with our product right, wrong, or indifferent. There’s no debating that there’s a situation we all need to attack, so we’re going to take ownership, and be a part of the solution.
Quality is owned by everyone. A common pitfall of many organizations is the belief that the quality of the product is the responsibility of one team. It’s foolish to think that nine of our three hundred and fifty employees are solely responsible for the relative quality of our product.
It’s not just that the software application works. It’s not just that the quality engineering team finds all the bugs, or the engineering team fixes them as fast as possible. It’s that the company that builds the software application approaches quality holistically in all facets of each department. We should embody quality in all that we do, including all communications internally and externally, whether in person, via Zoom, or Slack/emails.
If we all embody a perspective of holistic quality, it will be present in our output, fostering better teamwork, relationships, and products.
We define integrity as a state of being whole and undivided. It is the pursuit of an undivided relationship with your peers, people who you report to, and those who report to you, within your organization and outside of it.
We pursue wholeness and an undivided approach to everything that we do. If we perceive any type of incongruity internally or externally, we go after it. We approach conflict with the attitude of teamwork, asking “How may I better help you? Working together does not have to be combat. We’re supposed to desire to work together and pursue harmony. I want to be a person that is integral to the success of this business, whatever that might look like, and I feel like there might be some type of division here.”
Being a person of integrity means we maintain a posture of grace and trust, taking ownership, and pursuing quality in everything we do.
Core values create accountability and alignment. Accountability and alignment allow you to focus on what matters most to the business which ultimately benefits the customer. If you notice someone displaying one or more of these values, please go to the Shout Out Slack Channel and tell us all about it!