The three pillars of workplace culture at Matthews Steer Part 1 - Purpose
By Catherine Duncan
Accounting firms can get a bad rap for being staid, siloed, rigid and altogether grey. The reality in modern day accounting and advisory firms like ours couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t be under any illusion, a lot of strategic thought and effort goes into disrupting the stereotypical accounting workplace, which we tackle on three fronts, purpose, productivity, and passion.
In the next three weeks I’m going to take a closer look at each of these cultural pillars and give you a sneak peek into Matthews Steer’s approach to cultivating the workplace culture that’s earned us industry-leading employee engagement.
First up, purpose…
With hindsight, over the 14 years that I have been involved with Matthews Steer, it’s clear that periods where our business felt like it was losing direction align with periods when our purpose was unclear. That’s why we have dedicated ourselves to honing the purpose and values of our ever-growing, ever-evolving business, as we looked to take Matthews Steer to the next level.
Now, we’re extremely proud of the diversity within our business, but galvanising a large group of individuals, each with their own values and cultural touchstones, and getting them to all pull in the same direction is no easy task. Which is why, a few years ago, we found ourselves asking our people to help us redefine our purpose.
It’s a testament to our team that they embraced the challenge wholeheartedly, deeply examining the feelings, beliefs and experiences of our collective group. What became apparent in every single conversation, meeting and workshop was that Matthews Steer lived and breathed ‘community’. This was the beating heart that pulled everyone – and everything we did – in our business together.
Our purpose: Empowering our communities to live their potential, and the values that underpin our purpose: nurturing, inquisitive, optimistic and passionate, were born from that realisation.
At Matthews Steer, our purpose is the North Star we turn to when we’re reviewing the progress of our business. It’s the lens through which we test our strategic direction, the milestone against which we measure success or failure, our compass when we feel any aspect of our business has lost momentum or direction, the foundation of the stories we share in team meetings, and our guiding light in our dealings with our networks and our home; our North West Melbourne community.
Our question is always the same: “how are we empowering you to live your potential”?
Understanding our purpose
When we’re hiring we ask candidates of all levels to share their take on our purpose and our values. Believe me, we’ve had some very interesting responses over the years! And that’s a good thing because it lets us gauge whether our purpose and values resonate, and it provides strong insight into their own personal values. Of course, anyone can trot out a textbook response, but we can usually spot a rehearsed answer from a mile off. The way we see it, an interview is a two-way process, and common purpose and values are critical to a successful future journey.
Understanding our clients’ purpose
It can be a daunting prospect for a member of our team to advise a client to set aside their old ways of working and embrace a new strategy. But because our people have such a deep understanding of the importance of purpose, they are able to gain a better understanding of our clients’ purpose, values and capabilities. That knowledgebase enables them make recommendations that empower our clients to live their potential, and to ensure the leap of faith that sees them shrug off old ways of working in favour of exciting and challenging new approaches, feels strategic and purposeful.
We are all on our own journey at our own pace however, if we feel a client or colleague doesn’t fully embrace the idea of empowering others to live their potential, their relationship with our business will be short-lived.
Next in my three-part series, I’ll be tackling the importance of productivity to a healthy workplace culture.