Implementing Core Company Values from the Top Down

Roisin O'Hagan of Unosquare discusses core values and the importance of C-Suite adoption.

Roisin O’Ha­gan is Vice Pres­i­dent of Human Resources at Unosquare, a com­pa­ny that pro­vides cus­tom soft­ware and agile soft­ware deliv­ery pro­fes­sion­als to health­care, finan­cial ser­vices and high-tech clients.

Roisin’s moth­er was an HR pro­fes­sion­al — one could say that HR is in her blood. She joined Unosquare as a start­up and was quick­ly pro­mot­ed to VP. The com­pa­ny expe­ri­enced extra­or­di­nary growth dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, expand­ing from 400 to 800 employ­ees inter­na­tion­al­ly. As the com­pa­ny grew so did its values.

We sat down with Roisin to dis­cuss the val­ues behind Unosquare, why hav­ing the exec­u­tives on board and excit­ed about those val­ues is essen­tial, and why they believe in pri­or­i­tiz­ing their peo­ple above all.

Adapting in the Face of the Pandemic

The pan­dem­ic changed so much about the way we think about how to bal­ance work and life. While this was an extreme­ly hard time for many, it also pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn, grow and change with the world.

Like many com­pa­nies, Unosquare has always been active­ly engaged. They liked to put on events and orga­nize meet­ings between employ­ees. Onboard­ing for new team mem­bers was done in per­son and over coffee.

The pan­dem­ic stripped every­thing back — sud­den­ly every inter­ac­tion had to be done via a com­put­er screen. HR pro­fes­sion­als like Roisin were faced with how to keep employ­ee engage­ment alive and how to con­tin­ue to grow while encour­ag­ing healthy com­pa­ny culture.

Tri­al and error were part and par­cel of fig­ur­ing out the best way for­ward. Unosquare orga­nized remote events through Teams and Slack. They even imple­ment­ed a com­pa­ny-wide 1K run, where par­tic­i­pants shared pho­tos of them­selves after their run. It was a dif­fer­ent way of doing things, for sure, but it helped to bring the team togeth­er, even if they couldn’t be togeth­er in person.

Implementing Values — and Getting Executives On Board

Unosquare pri­or­i­tizes its peo­ple above all else. This, cou­pled with a vul­ner­a­ble and trans­par­ent lead­er­ship style, pro­motes trust and yields a trust­ing team. Roisin main­tains that your company’s val­ues are an essen­tial part of the orga­ni­za­tion as a whole. They can give your team a real sense of belong­ing. Core val­ues pro­vide a sol­id pur­pose and Unosquare iden­ti­fies five key val­ues, apt­ly named the Five Fs:

  • Fit
  • Fam­i­ly
  • Free­dom
  • For­tune
  • Fun

These work as a frame­work for con­vey­ing a clear mes­sage to their 800 employ­ees by let­ting them know what the com­pa­ny stands for.

For­tune” is one of the more inter­est­ing val­ues. For Roisin and Unosquare, for­tune is about hav­ing con­fi­dence in their future. This means ensur­ing that team mem­bers under­stand that an impor­tant core val­ue of the com­pa­ny is that it is a sta­ble place to work. They have a com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing long-term employ­ment and growth, which is com­fort­ing in these tumul­tuous times.

The exec­u­tive team at Unosquare is active­ly involved in con­nect­ing with employ­ees and there­fore imple­ment­ing those core val­ues. It isn’t just up to HR — man­agers, team leads, and even the CEO put in a real effort.

The CEO, Gian­car­lo Di Vece, decid­ed to hold an Ask Me Any­thing” ses­sion, which he con­tin­ues to host twice a year. Any­one in the com­pa­ny can ask him a ques­tion, whether it be per­son­al or pro­fes­sion­al. It gives team mem­bers a direct link to a senior mem­ber of the com­pa­ny and breaks down those prover­bial bar­ri­ers that may exist between senior man­age­ment and gen­er­al employees.

Driving Values Home and Creating a Brag-Worthy Culture

Ensur­ing that the Five F’s are a pri­or­i­ty — and estab­lish­ing them as a norm across the globe — was essen­tial to cre­at­ing a brag-wor­thy’ cul­ture at Unosquare. With employ­ees based in dif­fer­ent time zones and speak­ing dif­fer­ent lan­guages, it was essen­tial that these val­ues were clear and easy to under­stand. No mat­ter where you’re read­ing them, no mat­ter who you are, from trainee to senior man­ag­er, the five val­ues have to be clear and relatable.

Com­mit­ment from the exec­u­tive team and CEO is piv­otal in any type of orga­ni­za­tion. It’s cru­cial for every­one to be on-board, from top to bot­tom, and that every­one is famil­iar with the core val­ues. There’s no point in hav­ing such a strong frame­work if no one knows about it.

This can be done by hold­ing month­ly all-hands meet­ings and small­er meet­ings if nec­es­sary. It means get­ting HR, finance, IT, oper­a­tions, pay­roll, etc. togeth­er and con­tin­u­al­ly going over the val­ues and the mis­sion. You should also talk about them in inter­views with poten­tial employ­ees, to set the foun­da­tion for the start.

Anoth­er one of Unosquare’s Five F’s is fit.” That means mak­ing sure that there is a match between the company’s vision and the employ­ees’. The COO heads tal­ent acqui­si­tion and he does a cul­tur­al fit meet­ing with every sin­gle team mem­ber who walks through the door. Is it time-con­sum­ing? Yes. Does it make all the dif­fer­ence? Absolutely.

Don’t under­es­ti­mate the impor­tance of review­ing your val­ues. Make sure that as your orga­ni­za­tion grows, your mis­sion and your com­mit­ment to that mis­sion, grow with it. Be open and trans­par­ent with your employ­ees: tell them what’s going on in the busi­ness. Your team wants (and needs) to know as much as pos­si­ble about the com­pa­ny that they’re oper­at­ing in. Keep that door open, always.

Even if you’re bring­ing in A Play­ers, if your cul­ture isn’t strong from the top to the bot­tom, they’ll nev­er suc­ceed. If your com­pa­ny cul­ture is strong, then your peo­ple will become the cul­ture. If it’s weak, the cul­ture becomes the peo­ple. Remem­ber that as you cre­ate your own brag-wor­thy culture!

Check Out the Full Episode

If you’d like to learn more about Roisin and her lessons from Unosquare, lis­ten to our full inter­view by tun­ing into the pod­cast on Apple or Spo­ti­fy.

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