Does your organisation have an internal guidance system?
That is, a default …
Whether its dealing with a customer, a process or a project, is there a set of guiding principles (aka core values) to support decisions and behaviour within all facets of the business?
Enter core values ……
Core values determine what is important in the business and to the humans inside the business. When values and actions are aligned magic happens.
This is the ‘glue’ that holds everyone together. Values underpin everything everyone believes in and stands for.
If core values are implemented correctly, people do not need to be micromanaged as everyone uses values to guide and lead decisions and behaviour (which is a good thing unless you are a control freak).
If there is any uncertainty in any area of the organisation there is always a set of values to fall back on, to guide your people home.
I often find when I talk to business owners, especially the smaller ones, that they do not see the merit in creating core values. Yet when I ask them to describe their culture to me it is often quite difficult and not of substance, compared to a company that created and infused their core values throughout the organisation.
That said, there are many leaders who like to talk about their core values, but all too often these values stay as a list up on the wall and are not integrated into all parts of the business and have come alive.
Core values work well when there is high integrity around the values by ensuring that everyone is aware of how serious the organisation is about living by these values (even to the point where you hire and fire by these values). Yet at the same time, there are loose constraints which mean they can be vastly interpreted.
As human beings we do interpret things differently, so in a positive way, this still creates diversity and adaptability.
1. Decide if you want to create core values for your organisation.
2. Elicit personal values first and then create the company core values (usually about 5-10 core values) ensuring that each core value is an action. Eg. Integrity would be ‘we always do what we say we are going to do’.
Allow the core values to capture the hearts and minds of everyone.
3. Integrate them throughout the whole organisation.
Everything your business is, everything your business does, should revolve around the core values.
Infuse the core values into everything from hiring, performance reviews, customer service, systems, processes, communication, products, services, marketing, leadership etc.
Here are a few ways in which to develop and strengthen core values further into the culture:
Create a culture club to focus on the core values
Focus on one core value a month and organise fun activities related to this value
Recognise and reward employees that demonstrate the core values at work
Use your core values in marketing to show your customers who you are and what you stand for
Get employees to reflect and provide examples of how they have been living the core values at work
In meetings have an employee explain what one of the core values means to them
Creating core values and rolling it out across the entire organisation is no easy feat but the rewards are well worth it.
That said, if done badly are worse than no values at all. You cannot simply find a list of lovely looking values you hope you organisation may live by one day.
For values to have even a fighting chance of being lived and breathed in the organisation they must be a representation of the most commonly shared values of the people in the business.
If it is a large organisation then at the very least, the values must represent the most commonly shared values of the people that lead the business.
As much as I love my rose coloured glasses, every now and then I have to be a realist and understand core values are not for every business.
And yet…there is something very magical and powerful about a group of people working together sharing common values.
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