PAN was a 40-person firm and fresh off a move to the Boston Waterfront when I joined them as Vice President of Human Resources in the fall of 2011. Fast forward seven years, and we now have 140+ employees spread across our Boston, San Francisco, New York City and Orlando offices. In an industry long known for high turnover, nearly 40% of our staff has been with us for 3+ years; over 20% of our employees have been with us 5+ years. Candidates often ask me what has kept me here for so long. My answer to that question is fairly straightforward – and, frankly, a little bit cliché: It’s the people! They are what make PAN such a special place.
As we’ve continued to grow, we’ve found ourselves answering this question more and more – with candidates, prospects, clients and industry peers. We aren’t always directly asked about our core values, but conversations often center around them, and rightfully so. If you’re thinking of partnering with an organization to help you achieve your goals, wouldn’t you want to know what it stands for? We’ve certainly always been guided by a meaningful mission and a set of core values, but we never put pen to paper in articulating those values. With a global client roster and staff spanning four distinct cities, it felt like the right time to make it official. So, we set off on a collaborative journey to put into words what exactly makes PAN, PAN; culminating today in the unveiling of our Vision, Mission and Values.
It didn’t take long for our task force to decide that our journey should begin with our people. After all, our vision, mission and values were present all around us – in the incredible admiration and respect our staff has for each other, in the values evoked by PAN employees when describing our culture, in the trust and praise heaped upon PAN’s teams by clients, and in the staff brainstorms that hum with excitement and help us bring our clients’ stories to life. Heck, it was even present in the incredibly moving farewell emails from employees leaving the organization.
Our first step was research – we are in PR, after all! We took the time to review our own past language – press releases, decks, website content, blog posts, job postings, etc. – for our common values. How do we consistently describe ourselves externally? What things do we say about ourselves when talking with clients, prospective clients or job candidates? What does our CEO say about PAN when he’s talking with industry professionals? Conversely, what things do we consistently hear about PAN from those same audiences? What is it exactly that makes us stand out? To the latter piece, of course, we also did our industry research. We looked at M&V statements of others in our industry and beyond, eventually pulling together a deck that we could share with staff to help them understand our end-goal.
We approached it the way our PR teams approach messaging exercises with clients. We developed a list of questions and, ultimately, decided to do 1:1 interviews with our senior and executive management teams. We wanted to find the core themes – the core words – people use when describing PAN. We couldn’t do 140+ employee 1:1 interviews, but it was essential to us that we hear from the collective voice of our people, across all of our offices. So, we hosted a “PAN Core Value Day” across all four PAN offices. On Core Value Day, a PAN Ambassador in each office led the team through the discussion around two key questions:
What core values do you think PAN stands for?
What do you most value about PAN?
What resulted from each discussion was four incredible word clouds – complete with glitter – stemming from incredibly lively and collaborative discussions among the staff in each office about what PAN means to them.
Of course, then there’s the hard part. Synthesizing it all. The team set out to review all the data compiled from these conversations to identify the trends, themes and similarities across all levels of the organization. Having led HR at PAN for a long time, I expected a good amount of consistency. I’ve seen it reflected in employee survey results over the years, internal communications among the staff and my own 1:1 conversations with new hires and PAN veterans alike. But, somehow, seeing it all come together into clearly discernible values made it incredibly special. Our resulting vision, mission and values statement is the vivid representation of PAN’s collective voice.
This blog post is the first in a series of posts detailing our newly unveiled vision, mission and values. Please follow along with us!