Eighteen months ago, Uplight brought together six companies with a new name, new structure, and new values. We had the opportunity of a lifetime to create our own company culture, and after trying out our initial values, decided it was time for a values revamp. Sally Lambert reflected:
As a company, we have grown and evolved since our founding more than 18 months ago. It was time to refresh our values and as Patrick Lencioni said, ‘make our values mean something.’
We broke out into pizza-sized teams to reflect on what resonated with our current values of Do the Right Thing, One Team, High Performance Happy, and Ownership and, most importantly, what was missing. We differentiated between foundation permission-to-play values, core values, and aspirational values while acknowledging any accidental values that may have cropped up along the way.
Each team was composed by members across all departments and levels to represent different perspectives from Uplight. I talked with Sally Lambert, Senior Director of Business Operations, Sadie Fulton, Manager of Software Engineering, Michael Sobota, VP of Software Engineering, and Eric Martin, District General Manager to learn more about the process, what they learned, and what’s next.
How did the process go?
Sally Lambert: I was concerned we would do a checkbox exercise with toxic unintended consequences. However, I experienced deliberate, thoughtful, and deep reflection and listening that surfaced values truly core to Uplight. We gathered perspectives, looked for themes, looked for outliers, and pushed ourselves to differentiate aspirational values from core values without judgment.
Sadie Fulton: The process was exciting and inspiring. For the duration, we were in deep reflection mode, asking and answering questions like: “What is most important to you? Why do you work at Uplight? What is special about your colleagues? What does it mean to hold XYZ value close, to live XYZ value?”
When we took those answers and drove towards consensus, the alignment that defines Uplight became clear.
Michael Sobota: We put our values through the wringer and I was pleasantly surprised to see how much conversation and debate went into this process. The company took this refresh seriously and it was very exciting to see what came out of it.
What did we learn?
Eric Martin: There are some really passionate people at Uplight, and bringing those folks together to help set the stage for how we all should show up was really fun to watch.
Sadie Fulton: We learned how Uplighters behave – not from any one person’s view, but from a cross-functional, cross-seniority, view of the organization.
Michael Sobota: We had values that we truly lived day to day and others not as much. Having a set of values that are core to who we are across the company is important. We found that if we have something that amounts to just words on a page, that we should change it to be more aligned with who we are as Uplight.
What did we come up with?
Uplight’s Core Values
The values that guide everything we do:
- Do the Right Thing: We act with integrity, even when it’s hard.
- Impactful Progress: We work to meaningful outcomes, mindful of each step it takes to achieve them.
- Grow: We’re driven by curiosity and excitement, and we’re always ready to learn.
- One Team: We operate as a unified team, made stronger by the uniqueness of each team member.
Our Permission-to-Play Values
The foundational, table stakes values that all Uplighters must exhibit include:
- Trustworthy Professionals: We practice honesty, integrity, and respect. Always.
- Collaborative: We work well with others.
- Accountable: We act with personal responsibility. We own our mistakes and model the change we expect from others.
Our Aspirational Values
And values that we hope to add to our set of core values include:
- Embrace Difference: We create value from differences.
- Take Care of Each Other: We care for our own and others’ health and wellbeing.
- Graceful Communication: We communicate openly, directly, and active–but first, we listen.
Michael Sobota: As we integrate the refreshed values I will be practicing awareness of how these values are showing up for me and my team each and every day. We need to allow space for reflection on decisions we are making through the lens of our refreshed values.
Sadie Fulton: Living the best of Uplight! We need to instill the values across all of our human systems so we all have supreme clarity on how to live our values. We also need to continue reinforcing that clarity by recognizing exemplary value-aligned performance and continuing the conversation about what our values mean and why they matter.