One of my first job as an employee experience researcher was to understand the needs of the employees. With 1-on-1 conversations, I realized the core values of the company and the mission of the product are not defined and shared well, so I used affinity diagram to find out what we think about the company and the product, CLOSER. Therefore, we refined a core values of the company with the values from affinity diagram. And we refined the mission of the product but decided to keep it simple at that time. Our work kept changing as the client changed and we were not in the stage of choosing the client that perfectly fit our mission.
When I joined Sinicompany Inc. as an Employee Experience Researcher, I sensed the conflict between the leaders and employees. How they think about the company and the product was different and the voice of the employees were not heard well, so we needed to align the core values of the company and the product. Since the company was in the very beginning stage, it was everyone’s first time to think about the core values. I explained why we need to think about this.
The purpose of establishing core values:
● to understand what is important to us and communicate with the same values
● to set up criteria to recruit future employees
● to make a reasonable decision based on the criteria that we agreed on
● to differentiate our organization to others
In addition to the purpose core values, I explained why the first employees should discuss the core values together:
● We can keep in mind the values if we can understand them.
● The first employees will set up culture and influence the future of the company.
● The core values are meaningful only if we believe them and act based on them.
As a workshop leader, I explained the purpose and the process of the affinity diagram activity. To guarantee anonymity, I gave a piece of paper to each member and asked to write the core values.
These are the questions that I asked everyone:
● What are the attitudes we have / need at work?
● What do / should we consider important?
● What value should we have to lead the industry?
● What are the attitudes / ways to mediate / prevent the conflict?
● How can we overcome the crisis?
● What is our proudest company culture?
● What would be important even 5 or 10 years later?
● What trait should our future employees have?
Collecting the papers, I moved the values to stickie notes and we had a workshop to sort the values into categories. I put the repeated answers as many times as they appeared to show how the values came out from many people.
With the stickie notes, we created the categories that can include the values and organized them.
Similarly, we did the affinity diagram activity for our product, CLOSER. I asked the members to write adjectives that represent our product.
With the affinity diagram activity, the core values we came up with were:
● User centric
For adjectives that describe CLOSER, we came up with these adjectives.
● Money making
● Easy and fun / Convenient / Available to anyone
Impact and Reflection
Even after affinity diagram activities, it was difficult for us to come up with the core values of the company. The wording of the values was not clear, so we agreed on expanding each value more accurate and specific to be clear to the members.
We decided to split the values into:
1. how we work
2. how we communicate
3. growth of individual and team
Since the core values should be the ones that the employees will follow and support, we wanted to create the ones that can be applied to a bigger team. We felt this was not a good time to focus on core values because our tasks and work were highly dependent on each client. However, this affinity diagram activity enabled us to share each other’s thoughts and expectation of the company and product.