The core values of a startup define the primary beliefs of the company based on which the team acts. In our conversation with Wundermart we highlighted why core values are important for a startup and what they can mean in building and running the team.
Our core values define our deepest beliefs. Our beliefs govern our decisions, our decisions generate our actions and our actions become our behaviours. The core values of a startup define the primary beliefs of the company based on which the team acts. Core values echo the company’s soul. They are the lungs breathing life into the body. So why would you define your core values as a company and why should you embrace them as an employee?
In our conversation with Rody Turpijn (Head of Organization at Wundermart) we highlighted why core values are important for a startup and what they can mean in building the team and running the team.
Rody explains: ‘Core values define the beliefs of a company which translate to certain behaviours in the workplace. When you are looking to become part of a startup, you want to know if the primary beliefs of the people in that company resonate with your personal beliefs. Your personal values and the company values should be on one line. You have beliefs coming from your upbringing, the defining moments in the course of your life and your vision on life. They shouldn’t be a lot different from the core values of the company you want to join or already are part of, because they will be fundamental in your why and how you deliver your contribution on a daily basis’.
With core values you can guide talent in making the right decision to become part of your company and you can remind the current team of who you are as an organization.
So what are Wundermart’s core values? “Wundermart’s core values were chosen based on the ideas of the founders and the early involved team members on how to reach their goals, it was more of a gut feeling than anything else”, says Rody while we take a look at their core values.
Wundermart explains on their website: “Wunder is the term that captures our mentality. The ability to see new possibilities. The drive to make something happen that makes a difference and evokes a sense of wonder. Asking questions is the starting point of progress. Asking better questions unlocks real innovation. We never settle with the status quo – we’re challenging it. Our rocket fuel is seeing new opportunities to create better solutions for existing problems".
1 - Open minds: “We trust upon the fact that the expert knows what he or she is talking about. Nobody will tell you what to do, so it’s really important that you speak your mind”.
2 - Dare to make mistakes: “You have to make choices if you want change to happen. If you don’t make choices, nothing changes. If someone makes a decision which doesn’t lead to the best result, we’re still happy a decision was made. Because from those decisions we learn”.
3 - Value over cash: “It’s obvious we have to earn money as a company but it should always be the result of doing the right thing: adding value. That’s why we choose to employ a Customer Happiness Manager instead of an Account Manager for instance”.
4 - Always learning, always growing: “I have grown up in an always learning environment at Ajax (Rody used to play premier league soccer). At Wundermart we embrace this mindset. We always discuss what the individuals’ business goals are, but also what personal goals they have. This investment will add to the happiness of the individual and the complete company”.
5 - Never settle: “This is why Wundermart was founded. The founders really believe in challenging the status quo. We will always dig into the problem ourselves and change things”.
6 - Control your own destiny: “You have to manage yourself because you're in a constant storm. Everyone has to know what kind of choices he or she wants to make. This is also why we don’t have a defined amount of holidays for example. You lead the way”.
In sourcing talent, one of the most important things you want to assess is if a candidate aligns with what you believe as a group. Otherwise it will be very hard to contribute and be happy in your work because you will always be pulled into another direction than the company’s direction. “We discuss our core values with candidates and see how they respond emotionally. As a future employee you obviously don’t have to be exactly the same as anyone else in the company. But if you believe exactly the opposite of what the company stands for, you probably have difficulty working towards the shared purpose because naturally you’ll be going other directions all the time".
Not only in attracting the right candidates core values are meaningful. Also in the current team people can feel guided and inspired by something bigger than the task at hand. “It’s important to have core values because 1) you’re happier in your work when you have a clear purpose that suits you well and 2) you have goals that are well aligned and guided through overarching beliefs. You can have an honest conversation with people in the team and see if the core values still align with them as a person. Based on that conversation you can also help inform their decision if and how they want to stay involved with Wundermart”.
Wundermart is currently in a stage of hyper growth and sees the value of core values and of addressing them on a continuous basis. But there’s also a challenge to keep the core values alive when growing the team as rapidly as Wundermart. “While we scale we’re changing the organizational model and it definitely requires attention to keep a hold on our core values across the team. You see ways of working change, new roles being added and changing outside influences. Things are changing rapidly and you have to keep paying attention to what you're doing and if that is still in line with your core beliefs”.
Organizations can change at a fast pace, startups in particular. By defining core values at an early stage you can keep decisions aligned with the soul of the company. But many startups and scaleups miss out on the opportunity to define and communicate their core values. You often see companies that have core values that are hollow phrases, people don’t fully understand them and definitely don’t live by them. If you don’t use guides in your hiring and daily interaction in the team, chances are you and your team lose track of why your company was founded in the first place. Some startups and scaleups do have clearly communicated core values and use them to make better hiring decisions and give direction to their team. Some examples are shown below Wundermart, Mollie, Swipeguide, Orderchamp, Shypple, Virtuagym and HousingAnywhere.
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