How Value Alignment Helps WeaveGrid Stay True to Its Mission
According to Harvard Business Review authors Paul Ingram and Yoonjin Choi, when a company creates values alignment with both strategy and employees, the organization reaps “all sorts of benefits: higher job satisfaction, lower turnover, better teamwork, more-effective communication, bigger contributions to the organization, more-productive negotiations and, perhaps surprisingly, more diversity, equity and inclusion.”
For Yakov Berenshteyn, director of automotive and charging partnerships at WeaveGrid, none of those benefits are surprising.
WeaveGrid’s work intelligently connecting electric vehicles to the power grid is grounded in six core values: accountability, collaboration, focus, urgency, empathy and learning.
“Over the years, we’ve put a lot of thought into our values and took several iterations to fine-tune them in the early days of the company,” Berenshteyn said. “Those six core values align our mission and ambitions with respect to internal operations, external engagement and the climate challenge more broadly.”
In addition to driving strategic work for the company, WeaveGrid’s values also offer a clear lens through which to approach personnel needs from hiring to regular evaluation, directly implementing Ingram and Choi’s recommendations for building values alignment across the organization.
Built In San Francisco heard from Berenshteyn about how WeaveGrid stays true to its core values while using them to guide and clarify decision making across the business.
Why are WeaveGrid’s core values so important to the business?
My team works on a wide range of partnerships, many of which we are defining for the first time, and so aligning our work with our core values helps us to connect more deeply with external collaborators. When internal and external values are aligned, we find trust, which is the most important asset I can have in this role.
When internal and external values are aligned, we find trust.”
What are some steps you take to stay true to those values?
WeaveGrid’s company values readily serve as a screen for a number of different applications. For example, let’s say we’re setting quarterly and annual goals. One of several lenses to evaluate whether we’re setting a good goal is to run it through the six company values. Does the goal leverage and build on the values? What about the balance across values? Does it push on accountability for one person or team without balancing collaboration, empathy and learning with other teams?
Another example is using the values as a simple framework for regular feedback outside of formal review cycles. It’s not always easy to know what feedback to provide when things are going “fine.” Our six values allow for moments to say, “Hey, I love how you’re emphasizing joint learning with our partners,” or “Could we do anything to bring more focus to this workstream?” It doesn’t have to be forced, but our values act as a framework to get more specific about how we’re improving and how that aligns with our company goals.
What are some traits you look for in employees that indicate their values are aligned with yours?
First, we’ve put our values clearly on our careers page and reference them in our job descriptions. So honestly, I can imagine some people either consciously or subconsciously self-select into or out of our hiring process. Whether a candidate is thinking, “I already adhere to these values,” or “I would appreciate these values in my next workplace,” either sentiment is a good initial sign.
Obviously, it doesn’t really help to ask candidates whether they meet value A, B or C. These come out during the interview process, particularly when it comes to questions about how the candidate solved challenges in the past. This is especially true for external-facing roles like on my partnerships team, where trust-building is paramount. I don’t want to know just that you “did X to solve Y,” but to hear your reasoning through the decisions you ultimately made. Either that reasoning is going to come out as being values-driven or not. Of course, those values don’t have to perfectly match some checklist on our end: It’s the self-awareness and ability to reflect that make the difference.