Saracens Rugby Club is living proof that company values – developed and applied correctly – can unite, define and guide behaviours even in the most unlikely environments.
When the ultimate goal is to win, many sports clubs might question the need for company values.
However, Saracens, after years of playing without a home to call their own or a community to truly thrive in, had other motivations.
The club needed an identity and a purpose to get off a path of mediocrity. CEO Edward Griffiths and then-Director of Rugby Brendan Venter asked the players to explain what the club stood for back in 2009.
When they couldn’t answer, they rephrased the question. What should Saracens stand for?
The answer was honesty, discipline, work rate and humility.
These are now the core values and behaviours that the players and club adhere to, including the behind-the-scenes employees.
Mike Hartwell, the club’s Media and Communications Manager, said: “The values can work in any environment. While the players’ work rate is on the pitch, ours is in the office preparing things and making sure that everything is great for the matches.”
Saracens are proud of their values – the words are emblazoned across the front of stands – and are unashamedly united.
Saracens scrum half Neil de Kock has been with the club for eight years and has seen the difference the change in philosophy, steered by the values, has made.
He said: “We try to live by the values. There are going to be times of disappointment and we’ll make the wrong decision in the heat of the moment. We appreciate what people bring, not what they don’t.
“We strive to get things right and if we don’t, we address it as a group and sort it out as a group. We realise that the group is always going to be stronger than the individual.”
Success is difficult to measure at a sports club. To the people on the outside looking in success could be judged on the pitch.
The team has reached four finals in recent years and won one trophy – but more importantly, colleagues and players now know what the club stands for and what it means to its supporters.
Neil added: “We believe that without humility, there can’t necessarily be growth.
“You can’t pat yourself on the back for too long before you have to get your head down and start working hard again.
“Through our values we’re aiming to reach our two goals: to make memories and create a family. I think we’re on track.”