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Company core values are the ideals and guiding principles that guide your teams on how to act within your company. These values are positive goals or beliefs that describe how you work and how clients and how customers can expect you to interact with them. They are intangible ideas, but they can have a very real effect on your business.
Statements of company core values tend to be short and easy to remember. They can be written in company reports or prominently displayed in a workplace. They might go by various names, like a mission statement or company slogan or motto, but the purpose is the same: to state the most important things your company stands for.
Making your company’s core values into official workplace policy makes the driving force behind your company visible. It can help with internal decision-making and create a culture built around a purpose so your team can work together towards a cohesive, common goal.
For example, if one of your core values is friendliness, your customers should know to expect a warm reception when working with you, and your employees feel that pleasantness is an expected part of every interaction.
Why Have Company Values?
Today, about 89% of companies have written core values. The idea gained traction in 1994 with the publication of Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, which established the benefits of core values.
While it might seem hokey or overly emotional at first, making your core values an explicit part of company policy communicates extremely important information about your business to two groups: your staff, and the public, including your customers.
For management and staff, having clear core values can:
- Motivate employees by giving them a purpose to work toward together.
- Make everyday decisions easier by making company priorities clear.
- Help with hiring by making it easy to identify who fits with the company values.
- Allow for more accurate employee reviews by clearly stating expectations and defining how people are supposed to be doing their jobs.
- Help build an ideal company culture that contributes to the organization’s overall goals.
For the public, your core values can:
- Build a strong brand by defining what you stand for and what’s unique about your business.
- Give your company a competitive advantage by letting clients and customers know what you believe in so they can feel good about supporting your organization.
- Communicate your unique selling points immediately to the public, so they always know what your company offers them beyond products and services.
What Are Some Examples Of Company Values?
You don’t want to copy another company’s values, because you want yours to reflect your uniqueness. However, looking at the core values of your favorite businesses can give you a sense of how specific values have built the companies you know. Here are some excellent examples of core values statements from successful organizations.
- Delta’s values are “Honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance, and servant leadership.”
- Starbucks has four values, starting with “Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.”
- Google has a longer list of ten company core values.
How to Successfully Create A Core Values Statement For Your Company
Most company mission statements are short. However, they can take time to create, because to be successful, statements of company core values need to be doable for your company as well as clear and concise. They also need to help you build the company culture you want to create. To achieve all of that, follow these suggested steps.
- Open the discussion. Start by explaining to your team why you want to create company values and what the process might involve. If some employees are especially enthusiastic, you might want to assign them to a committee for creating your company values.
- Review any material you already have. Re-read your company vision, mission statement, or any other materials, if you have them, to see if they offer any insights about your values.
- Identify the values you already have. Chances are, your team is already working with some assumptions about how things should be done and the ultimate goals of the company. These may be unstated assumptions, and different workers may have different ideas about how they should be making decisions.
A great place to start is by using Connecteam surveys and polls to find out what values your team already sees in practice every day at work. You can also ask what values people would like to see—and why.
- Start with lots of ideas. After speaking with and polling everyone on your team, generate a list of values people have seen or would be interested in seeing. Hold some team meetings and discussions—you can use Connecteam secure chat for this—to generate more ideas.
- Reflect on your company goals. To start, consider why the company was founded or what problems it’s trying to solve. How can your values reflect this?
Consider goals for how you want your business to be seen, too. If you want to stand out in a competitive industry, you may need values that are service- or customer-focused. Or, they can focus on fun or creativity.
If you are in a growth phase, you might want values that focus on development, innovation, or research. From your list of possible values, eliminate those that don’t fit company goals.
- Think about your clients. What do your clients need to see from you to want to work with you? What feedback have you gotten from clients and customers? You might even want to speak with some stakeholders to better understand their needs.
Add in any new values that seem important and remove any that are counter to what your clients need.
- Distill your values. You might want to assign a group of people to develop your values, or you could leave your values to a vote once you have narrowed down your list. Ultimately, you want to narrow it down to between four and 10 ideals to put into policy.
This range will not be overwhelming and should be easy to remember while also providing enough clarity and detail to guide your team.
- Decide how you will write your values. Do you want single words in a list, sentences or phrases, words followed by descriptions, or perhaps another way of presenting your values? Experiment with different styles.
- Stay positive. Usually, company values are written in positive or neutral terms, rather than negative ones. Company values tend to state “we treat everyone with respect” rather than “we don’t tolerate disrespect.”
- Do some testing. Present your values to team members. What are their initial reactions? Can they describe how they might act in different situations if they were operating on these set of core values?
Can they describe, in their own words, what success looks like for each value? What might they change? Do they have any concerns about the proposed company values?
Once you have feedback, you might want to work with a professional writer to further refine each value so it’s memorable, clear, and precise.
- Look for contradictions. If one of your values is “we take the time to get it right,” for example, it might be confusing if another value declares, “we’re fast.”
- Set up regular reviews. Your core values may change as your company grows, so check in at least once a year with leadership or with company team surveys to make sure your values still feel relevant and accurate.
How Can You Successfully Implement Company Values?
Writing down your company values isn’t enough to have a positive impact on your company. They will have to be put into practice. Companies that show a disconnect between their behaviors and stated values can confuse stakeholders and even seem untrustworthy.
Here are some tips to successfully integrate your values into everyday operations.
- Practice your values every day. Display your values at your company and online. Discuss your values often and explore how you can better integrate them into everyday life at your business.
- Adjust your processes. Once you have created company core values, look at your processes to make sure they support your values. If one of your core values is “have fun at work,” for example, do you have company parties on the schedule or a games room to give workers time to play?
- Celebrate wins. Base “employee of the month” awards and other recognitions on values or use Connecteam recognition and rewards to celebrate workers who embody the company’s values. This will help to engage employees and raise employee satisfaction in the long term.
- Have difficult conversations. In some cases, there may be misinterpretations of company core values, or some employees may not agree with a change in culture. In all situations where there seems to be a disconnect between how you want to do things and how things are done, have discussions with your employees about why the situation is happening and what you can both do to solve it.
This applies to management as well. From the top down, be honest about whether your organization is living its values and make changes if you are not.
- Look at your culture. Company core values, as their name implies, should be at the core of your company. Everything from recruiting to training to everyday interactions to onboarding should be based on them.
Values Add Value to Your Company
To be successful, company values statements need to be carefully developed, unique to your business, and regularly put into practice until they’re a normal part of everyday operations.
When this happens, company core values can be extremely beneficial in building your brand and teaching your team how to show up at work.