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Why Values-Based Leadership Matters

Posted May 25, 2017 By Siobhan OLeary

As the head of People & Culture at a fast-growing company, I’m most proud of the strong and productive workplace culture for which our team at Convene is now being recognized. In 2016, we were honored with the SmartCEO Corporate Culture Award, and we are thrilled to be certified as a great workplace by the Great Place to Work® organization for the first time this year.

Our values-based corporate culture represents the true heart and soul of our organization. We think about culture as the unspoken way things get done, and Convene’s authentic culture is a result of the belief that living our core values drives performance. It keeps us moving forward, and we are just getting started.

“How was your day at work, honey?”

If our employees can’t answer this question with the word “great” at the end of each work day when they arrive home, we feel like we have failed them.

Our goal is to strike an equal balance between strong workplace culture and strategic business imperatives. How can other leaders start building this type of environment at their own organizations? Here are three principles for creating a values-based workplace culture that is deserving of “Great Place to Work” recognition:


1. Define values early on

When a company is just getting started, the leaders are typically co-located and working closely with early-stage employees. Being deliberate about defining and building the company’s shared values and sense of purpose is crucial during this time. Clearly defined, non-negotiable values are important for driving behaviors and decision-making in the future. This ultimately defines and drives the culture of an organization.

At Convene, we have been focused on our “why” since the beginning, centering ourselves on our core values of GRIT and our 1% better each day philosophy. GRIT is an acronym representing our values: Genuine, Relentless, Integrity, and Teamwork. It’s our cultural foundation and drives passion and perseverance to pursue our long-term goals.


2. Hire for values alignment

While hard skills are undoubtedly vital for any job, it is essential to hire people that are personally aligned with company values. This alignment fosters an environment where every employee feels inspired by and connects with a universal vision that speaks to a higher purpose. Convene’s co-founder and president Chris Kelly often says, “as leaders, we must prioritize culture and values over capabilities alone.”

We view our Convene employees as our greatest value proposition. Our 2017 Great Place to Work® culture assessment found 98% of our employees have great pride in working at our organization. Confident and engaged employees lead to exceptional customer experiences, as shown by our industry-leading NPS scores. Consistently achieving high customer satisfaction scores from clients is a result of Convene’s commitment to unleashing the potential we see in every team member at every level of the organization.


3. Integrate values into the decision-making process

One of the best and most important ways to ensure culture becomes a value proposition for any company is to measure alignment in decision-making tools internally and externally. We use our values as a barometer and gatekeeper for empowering team members to make decisions.

Convene’s values are woven into everything we do, from our internal initiatives to the way we select external partners to work with. For example, in our annual performance review process, our values are included as core competencies, and employees “rate” themselves on how well they performed against each of our values, along with providing examples and evidence to back it up. Our employee recognition programs are derived from our values as well. We are also intentional with internal communications that consistently highlight instances when our values drive various internal and external successes. Additionally, we have experienced more effective collaboration and success with vendors, clients, and partners with whom we recognize values alignment.


Growing and building a legacy together

We are truly humbled by the recognition we have received for being certified as a “Great Place to Work®,” and need to credit our amazing employees who live our values day in and day out and make Convene an incredible place to work.

While the war for talent is fierce, it is our experience that culture and value-aligned teams lead to employee satisfaction and reduced turnover. So if you have empathy, GRIT, and a drive to be 1% better every day, please consider joining us at Convene. We are expanding across the country, and all current job openings can be found at www.convene.com/culture.

We look forward to hearing from you!

– Siobhan O’Leary, VP of People & Culture, Convene


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