Karbon’s values in action (part 5): Be good to each other (all day, every day)

Innovation requires diverse ideas.

Ian C and Jourdan from Karbon, standing and mid-conversation.

That’s one of the reasons why Karbon’s fourth value, bring your authentic self and act with integrity, is so important to us. 

But, when you build a diverse community, you’re inherently and intentionally creating a culture where people don’t have homogenous ideas. And that can lead to debate, which is why our fifth and final company value is so important.

Karbon’s executive team revised our company values this past year with an aim to further define what each value looks like in action and how it manifests within the day-to-day operations of our company. 

In the fifth and final installment of my take on Karbon’s values, I explain why being good to each other is an essential priority and how it acts as the glue that holds our team together. 

Karbon value: Be good to each other all day every day

"We behave like people we’d like to work with, striving to be good even when no one’s looking. We don’t make exceptions for behavior because someone gets results. We accept that we’re not always completely aligned on what direction to head, but it’s ok because constructive debate is natural and part of the journey. We work through challenges together and emerge stronger."

If I’d had my way, we would’ve phrased this one a bit differently. (Listen to my conversation with Karbon’s Jess Marcello and George Connor on the Accounting Leaders Podcast to learn more on that one.)  

But regardless of verbiage, this value is, ultimately, about exhibiting basic human decency. 

Some may think kindness should be assumed and is an overly basic concept to incorporate into company values. But this value is more nuanced than that. And it shouldn’t be taken as a given or assumed. 

Goodness begets goodness

We want our employees to want to work for us. 

And so a huge part of that lies in creating a work climate where people are fundamentally kind to one another. I’m a big believer in the idea that we get back the energy that we put out into the world. When I’m kind, supportive, and trusting of others, they’ll be kind, supportive, and trusting of me in return. 

Being ‘good’ isn’t about grinning and bearing it while the boss is around. It’s about internalizing those behaviors in all things. And it’s even about being good to ourselves! 

We spend so much time at work. Why be miserable?

Healthy debate is part of critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving

As a SaaS company, innovation is key to our success. Our line of work calls us to be forward-thinking. But if we surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, we limit our capabilities. 

In settings that require creative thinking, debate is inevitable. But there are ways to debate (and ways not to debate) that can yield great end products. At Karbon, that’s exactly what we’re after. 

Debate is an opportunity—an opportunity to learn different perspectives, look at problems and solutions from new vantage points, and come out stronger. 

So knowing we’re a company that invites debate, we must provide parameters for how we debate—empowering our team to work through disagreements (with kindness at the core) and come out the other side with the best possible end result. 

If we didn’t focus on helping our teams engage in healthy debate and if we didn’t value ‘goodness’, we’d be setting ourselves up for failure. Nothing stifles innovation more quickly than a culture that punishes failure and ridicules individuals for sharing their off-the-wall ideas. 

Simply put, debate is part of the process. So let’s behave in ways that make the process a positive experience for all involved—and a successful one at that! 

Karbon values in action: A recap 

When we set out to revise our values, our intention was to better illustrate what these priorities looked like in the day-to-day of our company. 

We hoped to bring these values to life with detailed descriptions and words that clarify our intentions. Our fear was that without additional information, our priorities would be left up for interpretation: by our team, by clients, and by potential new hires. 

These sorts of seemingly nebulous activities can easily get put on the back burner. To lead a company is to constantly keep many balls up in the air and sometimes it seems like there simply isn’t time for such abstract tasks. But making the time to regularly revisit who you are as a company (and who you are as leaders) is an act of preserving one’s culture. An act which can’t be understated. 

To read more about my take on Karbon’s values, check out the blog series here: