If you've read our post on companies that have strong core values, it marked how important it is to brand a company according to issues it feels are relevant, and that align with its aim as a company. But how does it come up with its values? Is there a recipe to follow? Are there secret steps to success?
The following is our top four just for you:
1. For examples of winning values
OnStrategy provides readers with a gaze into successful company’s core values. Using Kinko’s, Seventh Generation, Patagobia and Starbucks as companies with distinctive values that are well-known, it marks out the importance of defining the identity of an organisation.
More than this, OnStrategy's guide pushes forward the need to get feedback and build the core values around participants within the company. Suggesting a strategy session to develop a list of shared values, the two questions OnStrategy says are most important to ask are the following:
- What are three to five core values and beliefs that guide our daily interactions as a team?
- What are our non-negotiables?
Then, as a group, discuss the responses, and craft an explanation of the values that come up the most. Evaluate them, and gauge how important each one is for employees.
If they value and embody personability, then that should be something reflected in how you conduct your business: if you want all of you projects collaborated on by a number of people, teamwork could be a good value to instil in the newcomers, and to sell to the clients. The core values should be blossoming beliefs that all of your co-workers agree with, embody, and would want to see more of.
2. For a step by step guide to building values best for you
The Core Values Workbook by Coach Dawn Barclay is a resource available for download and is split into four sections.
The first section requires you to ‘Reflect’ on the values you have come up with for your company, and consider if they truly represent an authentic identity.
The second section is aimed to ‘Explore’ i.e. align and live by the values. You may realise that you weren't fully committed and that there are other values you want to incorporate in conducting your business. It is more important to refine your image based on what you truly believe in, and not just stick with values you’ve set out from the beginning because you feel tethered to them.
The third section is the defining of the values. Called ‘Align’, this section pushes you to take steps every day to point yourself in the direction of the values you’ve outlined. How are they expressed in the everyday? What can you do to improve this? You need to live your core values. It is one thing to introduce and ingrain them: another thing to live and conduct your business aligned with them.
This is why the fourth section is called ‘Live’. Simply live what you believe in. It can attract wonderful clients. Equally, it can determine a client-base by defining incompatibilities between your values and theirs. If you value a culture of collaboration and involvement, it may not be a good fit when someone only wants a senior manager handling their project. Which is okay!
If your company is big enough, and if you want to stop cherry-picking every person who applies for a job with you (because, hopefully, so many will be), be specific in your interview approach. Ask questions that reflect your core values. For example, if one of your values is innovation, ask what their favourite gadget is and why it is unique from other products.
This tool from Workable gives examples on what questions to ask based on the values you have chosen to live by in your company. It is essential that whoever you onboard either lives by them too (and conducts business in the same way), or that they have the capacity to align with them. These people are representing your company. Make sure they do.
4. For proof that the process works
Ajay Pattani is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Chicago and founder of Perfect Search Media. Considering his business core values are among the company's most important assets, his insight is an amazing tool to consult. It is, after all, straight from the horse’s mouth as someone who has successfully branded and marketed their own company.
He says it’s not only important to interview and find the right people, but that you yourself mark out what makes your company different from others in the field. Before you know this, you must find the values that make your company different and personal.
Pattani cites the process and the changing of values as two major milestones. Not rushing the creation of core values is essential and evolving past those that don’t wok/are not authentic is just as important to running a successful business.
As your culture evolves, so might your values. Don’t be afraid to check back in on them and consult the people in the company to get their take on it too.
If there are any three things to take away from all these companies, it is:
- Values are integral to a company’s mission and purpose;
- They must represent what the company stands for;
- They must be realised in practice, in what the organisation actually does (and how the people act!)
Any resources you'd recommend? Please let us know! After all, as an employee engagement and performance management tool, it's our business to know the best ways of establishing and embedding core values to drive success.