If the first building block in the foundation of your Biotech is Mission, Vision and Purpose, the second should undoubtedly be your Values. 

The importance of Values for Biotechs cannot be overstated, yet for many organisations, there can be confusion over what they should encompass. In big companies, we often see “Values” in the form of abstract words adorning the walls, usually decided on by senior management and never fully communicated with the rest of the team. Some people might feel like they understand them, others might not, and they are almost always vague, open to interpretation, and not truly lived by everyone within the company. 

In contrast, the most successful companies have their Values woven into the DNA of the organisation, boasting a seamless alignment between Values and the behaviours and competencies exhibited by the team. 

Tom Froggatt, CEO & Founder of Singular, explores how your Biotech’s Values can serve as powerful levers to influence organisational culture. 

You can also watch our latest webinar on the topic here.

Culture by design 

Try as you might, you simply cannot control culture within your Biotech. In fact, many would argue that the moment you make your first hire is the moment the company culture is officially out of your hands as founders.  

But while you can’t control it, you can influence the direction that your culture grows in, through hiring the right people, rewarding the right behaviours, weaving your Values into your decision making and ultimately firing people who don’t meet them. 

In recent years, there have been many studies into consumer behaviour and Values. One such example, Havas’ Meaningful Brands Report (2021), found that an incredible 77% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that share their Values – and that’s just looking at purchasing decisions. The percentage of people who’d want to work for companies that share their Values is even higher. According to Global LinkedIn data (2023), nine in 10 Millennial and Gen-Z employees say they would leave a job to work somewhere that better matches their Values, and 57% view an incompatibility in Values as a deal breaker. 

How can you define your Values? 

Defining your Biotech’s Values requires coming together as a group – ideally involving as many people in your company as possible – and discussing what’s important to you collectively. It may be that you have a set of Values in place already, but consider how everyone interprets them and what particularly resonates with people.  

If you don’t have any Values in place yet, some key questions to begin with are: 

  • What’s important to you as a group? 
  • Where’s the common ground? 
  • As people, what makes you unique? 

In answering these questions, people might be using different words or phrases to ultimately describe the same thing – keep an eye out for any trends or themes coming through in your discussion. 

Mark your distinctiveness 

It’s important to reflect on what sets your group apart and ensure that your Values encapsulate this. Remember, this isn’t necessarily why your science is unique or what your proposition to investors is, but what makes you as a group of individuals different to other Biotechs. 

A good way of figuring this out is to consider what Values you hold that wouldn’t make sense in another Biotech. A common reason why Values are ineffective is because they don’t capture distinctiveness; companies end up with a set of Values that could be picked up and dropped into another organisation and still make sense.   

You want to land on a set of Values work purposely for your Biotech, as this will ultimately help you to attract and retain the right people in your team moving forward. 

Should you use Values statements or single words? 

We’d always recommend opting for Values statements. Single words are inherently abstract, so open to interpretation, as opposed to more descriptive phrases. For example, at Singular, one of our Values is “excited by growth” rather than just “growth”. This is because we feel it is much easier for people to connect to what “excited by growth” means.  

Behaviours vs competencies

Once you have your set of Values in place, you can break them down into behaviours and competencies. Values on their own aren’t very useful; you can’t really implement them or include them in your processes in the way that you can with behaviours and competencies.  

In identifying behaviours, you’ll need to reflect on how someone truly living one of your Values would behave. What would be expected of them? What would you see when someone is performing at a high level in relation to that Value?  

The step beyond this is determining what competencies make up that behaviour. As a broad definition, competencies are “the knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviours that contribute to individual and organisational performance.” Ultimately, they are soft or hard skills that you can assess. You can use and measure competencies in interviews, performance reviews, promotion decisions and development plans.

Behaviours and competencies in action 

Recognising, rewarding, and promoting the behaviours and competencies aligned with your Values will solidify their integration into your company culture. 

As an example, let’s return to Singular’s Value “excited by growth.” Just some of the behaviours that sit underneath this Value are that we take our own development seriously and are proactive about it, we look for better ways to achieve outcomes and deliver for our customers, and we push ourselves, seek feedback and learn from it, and a competency attached to the Value is continuous learning and self-development.  

If we were interviewing for a new role at Singular, we would use this Value and its associated competencies in our line of questioning. For instance, we might ask an interviewee, “When have you taken proactive action on your own development?” or “Tell me about a time when you’ve had to discuss a new skill. How did you do it?” 

You’ll know when you have a competency nailed, because you’ll be able to ask questions that people can respond with concrete answers to. 

Ultimately, when you break Values down into behaviours and then competencies, they become a really useful tool for making sure the right people come into your organisation, the right behaviours are rewarded, and the right people are promoted into positions of authority.  

Need help with your people strategy? 

Values serve as guiding principles that underpin organisational culture. By defining, implementing, and integrating values into everyday practices, companies can foster a cohesive and purpose-driven culture that resonates with both your employees and your customers. Check out our recent webinar on the 5 keys to building a brilliant Biotech to learn more. 

At Singular, we are passionate about helping Biotechs to build, engage, develop and retain brilliant teams. Working as your People Partner, we can fulfil the key functions of a Chief People Officer, helping you to set and execute a People Strategy that will promote a positive employee experience. This strategy will include compliance, compensation, talent, learning and development, and culture.   

Find out more about our People Partnerships here.