By Jim Kendall
This column originally appeared in the February 15, 2016 Daily Herald
I don’t much believe in company mission statements or lists of values: They too often exist primarily to hang on the reception area wall and, presumably. impress visitors; look good in new business presentation folders; or dress up the website’s About Us page.
My experience is that few employees know what the statements say, and fewer care.
Then there’s MotherG, a managed IT services provider (MSP) based in Itasca. The Core Values statement that hangs on the wall outside CEO Dave Davenport’s office actually seems to set the tone for the way MotherG employees work.
At first glance, some of the Core Values are a little different, too. Be A Tribe tops the list of values. Love Our Clients comes before Know Our Clients. Work Smart is toward the bottom.
You can read the statement at http://www.motherg.com/core-values. When you do, pay attention to Be A Tribe, especially the part about “. . .helping each other learn and excel. . .When we have issues, we face them, talk it through, and overcome obstacles. We celebrate our successes. We share our failures. We learn and grow together.”
Call it tribal if you want, but the we’re-all-going-in-the-same-direction workplace philosophy permeates the MotherG culture.
“Culture is really important,” Davenport says. “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
MotherG’s Core Values “are the glue that helps hold us together,” explains Philippe Schmitt, information technology vice president and, with Davenport, a co-founder of today’s company.
In fact, Schmitt says, the Core Values help bridge the gap between workplace generations. “Generation X and Millennials. The way they think is completely different,” Schmitt says. Rather than fight the generational differences and assume employees will eventually learn the company way, he continues, the Core Values represent a team approach, MotherG’s rules of the road.
“We didn’t set them up. Values never work if they come from the corner office,” Schmitt says. “We asked employees for their input.”
It took MotherG 18 months to define what Davenport calls “The Mother Way. What do we stand for? What are we proud of? What makes us mad?”
Today, the eight Core Values are part of the everyday conversation.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn, therefore, that job candidates are judged against the Core Values. “These traits are not something you can teach,” says Joe Tricker, vice president service delivery. “(Candidates) have to be like-minded” because ultimately the successful candidate “must be accepted by the tribe.”
That acceptance allows marketing director Armita Ayrempour to have a near-veto over potential hires. “I interview on the sales side,” Ayrempour says. “But I’ll talk to the others who interviewed the candidate, and if I noticed a red flag I’ll ask, ‘Did you guys notice, too?’
“Hiring for me is judged not just on skills but whether a candidate fits our culture.”
Important? Tricker says the Core Values help MotherG differentiate itself. “Otherwise,” he states, “we’re not the only MSP in the market.”