Many companies started out their business venture knowing what product or service they were going to sell, got really good at selling that product or service, and after experiencing growth hit a plateau. They are now grappling with what to do next and how to regain their growth. Eventually the tasks begin to cloud the long-term vision and growth for the company, and it becomes time to reframe and re-look at what got the company started in the first place and where it needs to go in the future. So, what does this have to do with core values? And, what are core values, and why do they matter?
Core values are clear guiding principles for your business that serve as a guidepost for decisions and actions. Core values ultimately serve as a barometer for where you are as a company and set the stage for what you want employees to embody at work. They are critical to building a positive company culture that will last into the future.
So, how do you choose the right core values?
1) Choosing the right core values matters a great deal. You want values that not only capture who you are as a company, but also are actually attainable. Too often, company core values get inflated and become something to strive for that will never be possible. A great example of this is "passion." Passion is a hard value to measure - and equally as hard to hold yourself accountable to. It doesn't mean you don't want your employees to be passionate, but simple rewording can get the same message across and be measurable and attainable. For instance, instead of passion, "Bring your best effort," or "work hard everyday" serve as alternatives that still bring the energy of passion but can also be measured.
2) Another trap can be attempting to name too many core values. Valuing lots of things isn't a problem or a bad thing, but when the list of core values gets too long, the values lose their power and become unmanageable. The sweet spot for company core values is between 3 and 5. Any more than 5, and it gets hard to remember and starts to feel burdensome or gets lost on employees. In naming core values, simpler is better.
3) Core values should represent and be a product of your best employees (not just the leadership team, but who really stands out in your company). A great way to discover your core values is to start with your best employees - what do you like about them? What makes them stand out? You may come up with 15-20 (or more). Once you have a large list, work the list to find what matters the most by combining similar values, and striking those that really do not fit your desired values as a company. The goal is to get it down to 3-5.
4) Keep the core values simple, but make sure they are also clear. Once you've got your list of 3-5 nailed down, provide a brief description of what that core value means to your company. This is also a great chance to praise your employees by giving examples and highlighting those in your company you believe embody these values. You can define them with stories and simultaneously honor an employee.
Core values are key to creating a positive company culture. Not only that, but a company that lives by its core values is more attractive to partners and clients because they know what they can expect from you. So once you've got them nailed down - share them in house, share them externally, share them all the time.
If you'd like an example, here's the link to Evolve Consulting's core values.
If you'd like to have a conversation about creating core values for your company, contact us.