Sojourn News: Sojourn Values by Rebecca Le Grange, Managing Partner
Note: Sojourn Solutions has recently gone through a collective process of updating its core values, which are achievement, adaptability, and teamwork.
Our values, particularly teamwork, give a competitive advantage to any client working with us. We are a team that's truly focused on being the best functioning group we can be in order to create the most value for our clients. Our updated values guide how we interact with each other, with our clients, and with our partners. These three values aren’t “fluffy” or high-minded, empty rhetoric. Instead, they’re foundational for what we intend to achieve and how we intend to achieve it. Defining how Sojourners will behave, both with other Sojourners and with our clients, was a core component to how we created our vision for the next chapter of Sojourn’s growth.
Working with people who share and practice the same values, people who use those values to guide how they behave daily, enables Sojourn to move as one towards the success of our clients and our people.
We co-create the culture we want, a culture marked by high morale, high productivity, low employee turn-over, and clarity around who we are, what we do, who we do it for, and why we do it.
Before founding Sojourn, I worked in places (such as at agencies) where the internal environment was hyper-competitive. People would hoard resources of know-how so they could look good as individuals. Account teams would compete against each other for limited resources, which is bad for customers. Customers couldn’t gain access to the best knowledge, the best skills, and weren’t able to take full advantage of the whole team's expertise. At Sojourn, we organize ourselves around serving customers, driving their business outcomes.
Our values help guide who and how we serve
By fine-tuning our values and paring them down to just three – achievement, adaptability, and teamwork – we are really focusing on how we can best function as a team, how we can work collectively in a fast-evolving business landscape to best serve our clients.
We believe in synergies of talent, where 1 + 1 can be more than 2. Our values are really about achieving that synergy on behalf of our clients.
When we talk about achievement as a value, we’re achieving for the client first. When our Sojourners achieve, our clients also succeed – and vice versa.
It’s the same with teamwork. It's not just about how we function within our own Sojourn team, but about how we function as a combined team partnering with each client and their team. We all need to be sitting at the same table, on the same side of the table – Sojourners and customers alike, focusing on how to create the most value for each client.
The value of adaptability recognizes that all of our clients work in ever-evolving environments. To partner with them effectively, we must embrace the constant changes within modern marketing and enjoy the challenge of creating robust, future-proofed client solutions amidst all that complexity. We practice adaptability as individual Sojourners, as part of the Sojourn team, and in the ways we interact with and collectively create value for our clients.
Teamwork and the courage to do what’s right
Sometimes it takes courage for a Sojourner to share differences of opinion about what’s best for a client. When everyone agrees on everything, that’s a sign that people are choosing “safe” consensus over having an open and honest exchange of ideas. That’s not teamwork, nor does it support adaptability or achievement. It may be uncomfortable for a consultant to say, ‘we want you to have the best possible outcome, but the current idea won’t take you there.’ But these ‘difficult conversations’ need to happen for improvement to happen. Ultimately, clients are asking us for a professional opinion about what’s best for them.
It’s not just about us expressing differences of opinion, but also about offering the client concrete options for addressing the issues/challenges we all face from the same side of the table. We need to offer a proposal and show the suggested next steps that can take us from here to there. It’s about finding the best solution, not about who’s “right.” Good teamwork requires building trust over time, both with the internal team and with each client. You have to build that foundation of trust before challenging conversations can happen.
How our values inform our daily practice
The process we collectively went through to get clear about our values actually reflected our values. Sojourners worked with each other to define our values as they were simultaneously working with our clients to drive their success. That’s teamwork, adaptability, and achievement all in one.
Sojourners didn’t have strong disagreements around defining our values. It was mostly a collaborative discussion and a “whittling down” process to reach three values. Everybody had opinions about the types of behaviors they wanted Sojourners to exhibit. But we needed to make the values manageable and actionable for everyone in their day-to-day lives. We don’t want our values to become meaningless slogans on posters.
Our values need to be usable for decision-making, serving as daily guides informing real-world behaviors and decisions. A voluminous and complex “list of values” would not have been practical.
Building our future by going far, together
We celebrate whenever our values help us achieve success for our clients and our Sojourners. For instance, we have a weekly brag board on each team call which features Sojourners who have received positive feedback from our clients or from other Sojourners they’ve helped. And we regularly recognize Sojourners who exemplify our values.
When we empower our people, that leads to delighting our clients. We seek to stretch ourselves and deliver more value for our clients.
We seek to foster a culture where employees are inspired to do their best work for our clients and for themselves. By updating our values, we’ve gained greater clarity around how we want to build Sojourn.
That clarity is already helping us build momentum and co-create our future along with our people, our clients, and our partners.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” says an African proverb. In building our future, we are going far – together with our people, our clients, and our partners. We look forward to the journey, and the outcomes it will create for our Sojourners, our clients and our ecosystem.