How to involve the entire team when creating and refining your values

As a company changes, so should its organizational values. Our team is completely different from when the SupportingLines journey started 4 years ago. Our Founder & CEO, Jeff Smith, created our original values and with all of the changes and our company’s evolution, a Values Refinement was long overdue. Our team started the process by reviewing our current organizational values and suggesting newly refined values that resonate with today’s team and what matters to the individuals in the present moment. 

I hope this blog post not only demonstrates the importance of organizational values (something that we preach constantly at SupportingLines); but also gives you a glimpse into the speed, efficiency and benefits of the SupportingLines Values Refinement process.


We start the process by using ThoughtExchange, a tool that collects “thoughts” as anonymous responses to a question. In this case, the question posed to the team was “what are SupportingLines’ values?” The ThoughtExchange takes place online, with participants simply entering as many values as they’d like. Once everyone’s values are submitted, each participant rates their colleagues’ anonymous submissions. Finally, ThoughtExchange’s algorithm organizes and ranks each value based on the ratings. 

This is typically a 1-2 week process, as we found many participants come up with more responses after submitting their initial thoughts and ratings. For larger teams the two week time frame allows for space to be inspired by different ideas. In preparation for our team’s workshop to discuss the results, I reviewed the submissions and noted overlapping thoughts. I grouped the thoughts into overarching themes around key words (e.g. generous, empower, purpose). 

Team discussion

This was the fun part. Our entire team met to review the final results of the ThoughtExchange groupings. After discussing which were the most impactful for us individually, we collectively narrowed the list of themes down to 7. We then each prioritized our personal “Top 4” and revealed our selections at the same time, so as not to influence each other’s response. After less than an hour, we were able to agree on a new set of values. 

We then launched into a separate discussion to determine our leadership principles – how each of us as leaders in our own journey, can demonstrate the SupportingLines values on the daily. 

This exercise validated that our team as individuals are aligned on what values resonate with us most – especially considering the importance of truly living the values. It’s comfortable and easy to fall into a daily, weekly and monthly routine of working together, executing tasks and projects and meeting the company’s objectives. It’s not every day that you meet and discuss in depth the organization’s values specifically and how they resonate (or don’t). It is powerful to hear your teammates’ experience with the values and how they connect to them. Knowing that our team is truly connected to the values, we collectively chose only values that are of highest importance for us. I’m confident in holding each other accountable to truly living the values as part of co-creating a positive human experience at work.

What it means to “live” our organizational values

The last step is confirming and sharing them with the team, collaborators, clients and the public. It is really important to state your values publicly, and not just on the careers page. This is about what you stand for and what you expect from other people who work with your company. We expect our partners, suppliers and even customers to align with our values so that we can be successful together.

The importance of your organizational values

We have written multiple articles and hosted webinars on the important role that your organization’s values play in your day-to-day work.

I hope this insight into how SupportingLines’ process of helping co-create your organizational values shines an alternate light on the impact of this experience for the entire team. I can’t stress enough how important it is to regularly revisit and nurture the evolution of your values, as the team evolves. This is an empowering experience for every member of the team, who will be able to contribute to part of the organization’s high-level planning. It is incredibly important for everyone on the team, not just the senior leaders, to truly live the values of your organization. This is guaranteed to lead to a positive human experience at work for all.

Photo by Parabol on Unsplash.

Emily Macdonald

Emily Macdonald

Emily is an ICF certified Executive Coach and the Client Services Manager at SupportingLines. Emily brings a project management, organization and administrative approach to the back of house operations at SupportingLines.

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