Crafting CSA Education’s Core Values

Ever since the company changed ownership in 2016, CSA has been working toward identifying and solidifying our culture. Our mission and vision statements are clear. We know what we do. We have reached a point in our company evolution where we really needed to understand why we do it and to show that we value the people who make it happen. CSA is a small company with a unique culture, and we wanted a way to show exactly who we are and what we stand for. We hoped to identify a set of core company values that we could use for decision-making and human interactions throughout all levels of the organization. We wanted to be able to say, “This is who CSA is and what we represent. When you work for us or with us, this is what you can expect.” 

Creating the values turned out to be a worthwhile effort in and of itself. We followed a process inspired by a booklet from BambooHR, the vendor we use to track time off and other records, called “Creating Your Company Values.” I have long admired BambooHR’s company culture and the way they support their employees, and felt that their steps to identify values fit well with what we were hoping to create at CSA. 

The first step in that process was to host what we called “Jam Sessions.” Employees could attend any or all of the brainstorming sessions where we asked people to identify what about CSA they wanted to Keep, Add, or Leave Behind. Employees provided all kinds of great suggestions and ideas, some of which we were able to implement right away, such as introducing “no meeting blocks” on Fridays and Mondays to allow employees to have dedicated work time without constant interruptions.

The next step was to gather all of the information generated in the Jam Sessions and try to see where patterns emerged and then break those ideas down into actual values. The goal was that if the Jam Session results showed us what CSA employees consider important, we would get a tangible sense of our company culture. From there, we could say, “This is what we value. This is what we want to embody.” 

When we invited volunteers to help refine these brainstorming sessions into actual values, we didn’t have to beg for participation. Not only was this one of the largest self-selected committees we’ve had to date, we realized that there was a representative from every department present. We honestly couldn’t have planned a better group to craft our company values. We didn’t want to rush the process, so we met for a handful of facilitated conversations to really wrap our minds around the obvious (and not-as-obvious) themes that presented themselves in the Jam Sessions. It was like a jolt of lightning when the values finally came together. We finessed them a little bit to make sure the language was accessible and simple, but ultimately, it came together smoothly and we are very proud of the results. We’d like to share them with you.

We care.

We consider the members of our team, internal and external, to be our most valuable resource. Their time, energy, spirit, and humanity matter. When we care about our people, they care about their work and the clients they serve.

We support.

We know that we are strongest together. Our ability to collaborate is one of our greatest strengths. We provide a solid foundation for our team members to solve problems, embrace change, and grow.

We lead.

We value responsive leaders who make time and space for their employees and contractors and guide them toward growth. We recognize that leadership does not require a title. Our team members are empowered to make decisions and meet challenges head-on.

We welcome.

We believe that everyone, regardless of background or ability, should have an opportunity to thrive. We foster a welcoming atmosphere with every interaction. Our goal is to make everyone feel at home, no matter who or where they are.

We strive.

We encourage curiosity. We are constantly asking, “How can this be improved?” We push beyond what is possible and celebrate conscious risk-taking. We work hard and take pride in all that we do.

When you contract with us for a project or you join our team as an employee or freelancer, we want you to know that this is who CSA Education is. We are an organization that cares, supports, leads, welcomes, and strives, and we will do our best to uphold these values in every interaction. We certainly welcome your feedback and would love to hear what you think of the values and/or the process to create them. Please contact Teresa to share your thoughts.