Putting people first: Making Waves’ values workshop

Putting people first: Making Waves’ values workshop

Many companies have a set of values, and Making Waves is no exception. A few years ago, our values were defined for the whole Making Waves group operating in Norway, Sweden and Poland. We had keywords like trusting and curious, and everyone in the office would certainly agree with them. However, it was difficult for people to explain how the values are represented in our company life.

At the workshop: Great ideas in process

What’s more, the three Making Waves offices in Oslo, Stockholm and Krakow are becoming more independent, and this impacts our company values. The change in company structure and collaboration between the various offices has led to the necessity and desire to define the values on the country level. The headquarters in Oslo has already completed the process and announced a Making Waves Manifesto, a summary of the company values, approach, vision, mission and strategy. Now it’s our turn in Krakow.

Bottom up company culture

We started the process with an online survey, where we asked the employees to name three values, they think represent Making Waves. The goal was to get ideas from the bottom up rather than a set of values recommended by the management team.

Many values came up over and over again in the survey, providing a great basis for further discussion. The challenge was to find the commonalities, so that all of us understand them in the same way. They should be a guiding light for our everyday workplace, not empty words without substance. So the next step was to organise a workshop with people from various departments and with diverse backgrounds.

Workshop without managers

In August 2019, we invited a group of people to a five-hour workshop to discuss the results of the survey. With two to three participants per department, the discussion group represented Making Waves Kraków very well. Managers, including our CEO, were excluded, even though they were interested in attending. The idea was to have an open discussion. People were not asked to praise their company but to express what really matters to them, and to address problems. We figured it might be easier if your team manager is not sitting next to you. This turned out to be true, and people shared their thoughts openly.

Presentation & open discussion

The goal of the workshop was to create a set of core values along with best practices to support them, and to make sure that they are well understood. In addition, the participants were asked to name any processes or procedures that interfere with the values, so that we can find areas for improvement.

The discussion was absolutely necessary. We realised that people with different experiences, at different stages of their careers, and with different cultural backgrounds, often interpret phrases in completely different ways.

A discussion from a multicultural perspective

In the Kraków office of Making Waves, cultural differences are a part of our everyday lives. As a Scandinavian company in Poland, we are constantly adapting to the needs of our clients in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and other countries. Besides working together with colleagues from other Making Waves offices and NoA agencies, we also have people of different nationalities in our own workplace. Our Content Services team alone is made up of editors from seven different countries. Of course, most people at Making Waves Polska are Polish, and so was the workshop group. But people from Austria, Belgium, Sweden and Portugal also took part, making the discussion group more diverse.

People first: Do’s & Don’ts

The workshop went really well. The participants came up with useful ideas and gave constructive feedback and inspiration. A five-hour workshop can be exhausting, especially when the topic is challenging, and you are expected to be active and creative most of the time. We ended up tired but satisfied. People were realistic in their expectations as employees and kept our common goal in mind. The values we defined at the end of the workshop were:

  • We put people first 
  • We improve and grow as a team 
  • We are driven by curiosity 
  • We trust each other 
  • We communicate openly and respectfully

Next steps

The take-aways from the workshop were as diverse as the participants. Some strategies are quick and easy to implement, others require further discussion and will take more time to apply. What we know for sure is that we want to promote our knowledgesharing culture. Gaining skills and learning new things turned out to be one of the most important things to our people. Every month we arrange Show & Do, open sessions where employees have an opportunity to share their skills, knowledge or passion with their colleagues. Thanks to the strong interest expressed in these monthly sessions, we will continue to develop them.

Workshops are a great way to get different perspectives and inspiring ideas. At the same time, it is a huge responsibility to address the issues that are important to people and not to disappoint them. But we are determined to do our best and we know that with so many great people on board, we will make it. 😊 

Besides that, we are working on creating our vision, mission and our Making Waves Polska Manifesto. Stay tuned!


Check out the brand new website of Making Waves Kraków!
Find out more about company culture at the Making Waves’ group.

Co-author and editor: Carina Glinik