The aptly named Search Influence uses the latest digital marketing, such as search engine optimization, online advertising and analytics, to optimize clients’ potential. In nearly 13 years, the company has grown from two to more than 40 employees in an ever-changing, competitive landscape that constantly challenges co-founders Will and Angie Scott to evolve. “Like many companies, we realized in order to grow, yet remain true to our identity, it was important to put our identity into words,” says CEO and Co-founder, Will Scott. “Our goal was to define what customers can expect from working with us, the skills our hiring managers seek in new team members, and the values that our employees embody.”
When Search Influence decided to codify their company values, it was important to the owners that they not be top-down. Who better to define the current culture than the staff and line managers executing every day on behalf of their customers.
“We gathered a group of employees from all departments who had varying amounts of company tenure,” explains Will Scott.
Through numerous rounds of revision, the team arrived at Seven Core Values along with deeper statements that further defined each: Collaborative, Hungry, Agile, Reliable, Genuine, Effective and Dedicated. The values were presented during a company kickoff along with the theme: Search Influence Employees are CHARGED.
“It’s one thing to come up with core values and another thing to keep them alive in the organization,” says Scott. “As management, we try to translate them into everyday personal interaction with the team.” For example, Search Influence created “Kudos Cards” to recognize one another for contributions. In addition, the company used the values to help shape and define customer expectations, which lets customers know what to expect and team members know what they need to deliver.
“We also use our values in the interview process,” says COO and Co-founder, Angie Scott. “We sometimes hire in groups in which we give the candidates a stack of values on business cards to see which they most closely identify with. This helps assure we hire people who share our values.” Search influence has also moved away from the standard annual review and now rates values along with the job performance. They also use the values in 360 reviews and even asks employees who are leaving to rate the team and company on how CHARGED the team and company are in exit interviews.
The Scotts agree that highlighting these core values allows them to hire people who share Search Influence’s beliefs and gives everybody a similar language. “We can definitely feel the benefit to employee satisfaction” said Angie Scott. “Our quarterly surveys demonstrate where we still have opportunity, but even when people do leave, our exit interviews reveal that a majority of the former employees list the people they work with as their favorite thing about the company.”
While the values are currently used in-house, Search Influence’s next step is to ensure that vendors, contractors and ultimately customers align with these same values. “Our hope is that by trying to apply this to everyone we do business with, it will be a better experience globally,” says Scott. “Life is too short to spend time with people whose values are not aligned. Ultimately, we will retain more clients and more employees. Not that we don’t mind having different opinions, but we need the same values.”
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