Here at Spark Marketer, we’ve always had a cherished unspoken culture. But over the last couple of years we’ve nearly tripled in size, which got us thinking: As we add to our team and grow as a company, how do we protect and preserve our prized culture?

Without taking the time to define that culture, it’s really quite impossible, which is why we decided it was time to put who we are, what we do, and how we do it in writing. And that, of course, meant meeeetings.

Since we all play a part in creating and preserving the company’s culture, we all need to be a part in determining just what makes up that culture. So, we got together as a team and dedicated three days in May to identifying our culture and values, so we could define and set our mission, purpose, and vision for the company going forward.

What came out of this culture workshop was so important and so telling of who we are, what we do, and how we do it as a team, we thought it a good idea to share each value and what it means to us. So, over the next three posts, that’s just what we’ll do. Let’s jump right in with the values related to who we are…

We Are Honest and Accountable

While discussing our personal values and the character qualities we each felt were essential to our culture, honesty and accountability came up over and over again. But these qualities weren’t just discussed as being important for others to possess, they were discussed time and time again as valued personal traits. Every single member of our team felt that honesty and accountability were cornerstone traits to who we are as a company and keys to longevity and success.

Honesty and accountability are especially important in our industry, because one commonality between almost all of our clients is that they’ve been misled by a marketing company. This past deception is almost always to blame for any challenges we face when onboarding clients, and we get it. We have to earn their trust. We have to show them that, even though they’ve been lied to in the past, they’re now working with a company that values transparency and honesty.

We strive to be honest in everything we do – honest with ourselves, our co-workers, our clients, and our vendors. Because we have great respect for each other and those we work for and with, being honest is really the only option. But beyond that, we’re a company that does what we say we’ll do.

We know talk is cheap if it’s not backed up by action. In the words of Taylor, “the reality is,” our word is only as good as our follow-through. Together, honesty and accountability are crucial, not only because it’s what our clients expect, but because it’s what our clients deserve.

We hold ourselves and each other accountable to provide our clients with the best possible results and to follow through with what we say we’re going to do. Not following through and keeping our word is a form of dishonesty, and we believe those we work with and for deserve better. We cannot serve our clients well without being honest with ourselves and others and without being open to being held accountable.

What’s this look like in every day life? It’s taking great effort to be upfront about the length of time a project will take and what is and isn’t possible, because we want to be truthful in all our dealings. This doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes have hiccups or obstacles that pop up and change those expectations – it simply means that when those hiccups occur and obstacles pop up, we communicate this with our clients and work to get beyond them to get the work done.

The weight that we give honesty and accountability is tied to the high value we place on respect and the importance of showing respect to others in regards to how we speak, how we act, and how we treat their time, which leads us to our next value.

We Act With Compassion and Respect

One of the things we believe about respect is that it’s not something that should wane and wax over time and with interaction. It’s not something that depends upon whether or not we agree. It doesn’t differ from person to person. You deserve respect because you’re a fellow human being. Period. Respect should be present always, in all our dealings.

Each and every one of us is unique. We bring our own unique talents and knowledge to our work and to the way we approach problems and life. By showing respect, we open ourselves to the possibility of learning from others and seeing the world through a different lens or from a different perspective. This respect breeds compassion and helps us to be mindful and considerate of others. Alternately, as soon as we stop acting with respect, we instantly lose the ability to learn from others and we shut our minds to countless possibilities.

So how does compassion and respect show up in our every day?

Every morning, we share what we are working on. This isn’t a backdoor version of micromanaging – it’s so we can be respectful of each other’s time and consider what each member of our team has going on each day. It gives us all a chance to see into the lives of those we work with, look for ways to be helpful, and give each person the space and support needed. This simple task-sharing exercise helps build compassion and respect as we work together for our clients’ success.

But this compassion and respect extends beyond our office – we strive to act with compassion and respect towards our clients as well. Stepping back and shifting perspectives to see where a client is coming from isn’t always easy, but it’s imperative. We can’t serve our clients well if we don’t respect them, empathize with them, and try to understand where they’re coming from. We can’t help our clients if we think we’re above them or better than them on some level. Anyone lacking compassion simply isn’t able to lead or serve others. As partners with our clients, we MUST have compassion.

That said, we are only human, and sometimes we mess up, which leads us to our next value.

We Own Who We Are and What We Do

As a team, we need to know we can count on each other. And this means taking ownership when something goes wrong or we fail to follow through effectively. To err is human; to own up is divine.

Everyone makes mistakes, but the best way to learn and prevent widespread damage is to take responsibility and work on solutions. Pointing the finger doesn’t do any good and it certainly doesn’t encourage teamwork and cooperation.

Here at Spark Marketer, we strive to minimize mistakes as much as possible, which is why we have so many SOPs and systems in place. But when we do err, we’re honest about it. We own up to our shortcomings, we take responsibility for the repercussions, and we hold ourselves accountable.

Not one of us is perfect, but we can’t get better if we aren’t honest with ourselves and others and willing to work on getting better. Together, we can be better, do better, and serve better, which brings us to our last “who we are” value in this post.

Together, we __________________

Fill in the blank. Because whatever happens, we’re in this together. We partner with each and every one of our clients and each and every member of our team, so whether we’re having fun, helping veterans (with Warrior Horse), solving a problem, or struggling to keep business afloat, we do it together. We’re invested in the success of this company and in the success of every company we serve. And that means every success, every failure, every mistake, every opportunity impacts us all.

Every person here at Spark Marketer and every client we partner with should feel that support and know that we’re really in this together. From sending cards to clients who are dealing with the loss of a pet or loved one, to helping with the vet bills of an employee or going in together on Wrestlemania tickets for a diehard fan (Alex, our graphic designer), we strive to cultivate a real sense of community and communicate the message that whatever we do, we do it together.

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into who we are. Check out the next segment, Values, Part II: What We Do!