While “love” might be a word we are used to seeing in personal contexts, it’s not often that a company will choose to put it front and center… in their core values, for example! But that’s precisely what Incorta has done, and we recently had a chance to welcome their Senior Vice President of People Success, Sheri Kelleher, onto The BragWorthy Culture.
Incorta provides a unified data and analytics platform that eliminates traditional data transformation, with its modeling and aggregation steps, and instead makes data instantly ready for analysis from multiple complex source systems. With deeper analysis, teams can get insights faster and make smarter decisions.
Think. Act. Be. Love.
Incorta offers a great example of core values not having to be complicated. But that’s a new development. When Sheri first arrived the core values were nice, but they were spelled out in three paragraphs. It was more of a story than values that could be imprinted upon each team member across everyday activities and work situations.
So Sheri got backing from leadership to redo the values and tapped an internal team of thought leaders and cultural ambassadors for help. She asked them to reduce these three paragraphs to just a few words. That process led to:
- Think — consider innovation and impact on clients
- Act — intentionally, respectfully, passionately
- Be — leaders
But Sheri still felt like something wasn’t quite right, and that’s when she campaigned to add “love” as a fourth value, lending its first and last letters to make the values spell out T‑A-B-L‑E, which relates back to bringing people together and offering advice and hospitality around a table. “I love it,” the CEO said.
But it’s not enough to boil values down to a few key words. All your team has to share that clarity… and know the meaning behind those words. So Sheri helped organize an internal marketing campaign to communicate these values. As these values became clearer to team members, Sheri watched the work environment transform, as she saw people feeling freer to be their authentic selves at work rather than having to put on a professional face from 9 – 5.
Putting People First
As we’ve often seen when chatting with leaders at different organizations, the pandemic has changed so much about work dynamics, and Incorta has felt those changes as well.
One of the best ways to know what your team members are thinking, particularly about recent changes, is to ask them directly, and when Sheri first arrived she did a survey that received strong engagement, 75%. The feedback they got was humbling, but that meant that they now had to do something about that feedback. When the next survey went out, engagement was even higher and it was clear that team members appreciated that effort had been put in on areas they had previously identified as needing work.
But not every suggestion can be taken up, and that’s where transparency and context come in. People may accept that certain decisions will go differently from how they would have wanted, but if they know the methodology and reasoning behind those decisions, they feel heard and trusted, and that’s key to maintaining a healthy work environment, particularly during times that people feel are increasingly less economically certain.
Keeping Your Best People
When times are economically uncertain, it’s important to hold on to your best people. Your pipeline will shrink, which means bringing someone in the door is going to take longer. Sheri stays ahead of that curve by identifying who her top talent is and proactively asking them what they need, to be personally and professionally successful.
She shared an example from a previous company in which one of the top performers wanted to be able to pick up her child at 3 pm every day, which would mean that she would come in early to make up her time. There wasn’t really a flex-time policy at that company then, but they made an exception for her because she was a top performer.
For other employees, it may be a desire to speak publicly more often, develop in management, or cross-train in different departments. By going to employees first and asking them what they would like, an organization can show by its actions, not just its words, that it values its best people and wants to do whatever it can to retain them.
Meeting in Person
When Sheri first came on board, people were still very much working from home due to Covid, but in recent months Incorta has tried to bridge the gap between total remote work (and the Zoom fatigue that can come with it) and 100% back in the office, which isn’t possible anymore for people who’ve made adjustments to their lives in the last two years.
That’s led to more intentionality around digital tools and in-person meetings. There are workflows that digital tools can help with but sometimes people need to put their heads together in an in-person meeting to figure issues and projects out. But rather than imposing those intervals from above, Sheri has encouraged teams to figure out what balance works for them, knowing too that sometimes not everyone will be able to make it to those in-person meetings, no matter how far in advance they are scheduled.
When Sheri reflects on love as a company value, she insists that it’s not just there to give a warm fuzzy feeling. “We love our community and our customers and what we do,” she says, so naturally, genuine caring and love spread throughout the company and daily work life. By making sure her team members see that love in actions, not just on a wall somewhere, she’s ensuring that they think and act with that love, which leads to better outcomes for everyone.
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