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Company Core Values: The Backbone of Your Culture

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Core values serve as a compass, shaping the behavior and decision-making of employees at all levels. Be intentional about the process of developing company core values so that they truly reflect your organization's beliefs, foster a positive work environment, and drive success.

Remember these posters? Yeah, so do I. Employees know when your core values are just memes, and when they're truly genuine.

Cheesy 90s motivational poster that says "Be the Bridge: Problems Become Opportunities When the Right People Join Together". Image of bridge extending across a still blue harbor at sunset

Do you hear employees say them naturally, even when no one's looking? Can you use them easily as verbs in a sentence? All of these tips shape whether your core values become behavioral norms that help shape your culture, or just memes.

How to Develop Your Core Values: The Quick and Dirty Edition

  1. Assess Your Current Culture: Begin by assessing your company's existing culture and values. Conduct interviews, surveys, and focus groups to gather feedback from employees at all levels from multiple sources. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current culture, and determine what values align with your desired future state.

  2. Involve Employees: To create authentic and inclusive core values, involve your employees in the process. Host workshops or brainstorming sessions where individuals from various departments and levels can contribute their perspectives. Encourage open and honest discussions to ensure that everyone feels heard and valued.

  3. Identify Key Themes: Based on the input gathered, identify patterns that emerge. Look for commonalities, shared beliefs, and behaviors that align (or don't) with your organization's mission and vision. These themes will serve as the foundation for your core values.

  4. Draft Clear Statements: Length is not an issue here, but each statement should be clear, actionable, inspirational, and reflect the unique identity of your company. Use simple and straightforward language to ensure understanding across all levels of the organization.

  5. Align with Mission and Vision: Ensure that your core values align with your company's mission and vision. They should support and reinforce your organization's overarching goals and aspirations. Consider how these values will guide decision-making and shape the desired employee behaviors.

  6. Communicate and Educate: Once your core values are finalized, communicate them effectively to the entire organization. Develop a comprehensive communication plan that includes town hall meetings, internal newsletters, and dedicated training sessions. Hold leaders accountable to embody the core values and serve as role models for employees.

  7. Integrate into HR Practices: Embed your core values into various HR practices and processes. Incorporate them into performance evaluations, recruitment and selection criteria, and employee recognition programs. If they're out of sight, they'll be out of mind.

  8. Review and Revisit: Regularly review and revisit your core values to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with your company's evolving needs and aspirations. Solicit feedback from employees and assess how well the values are being lived and practiced across the organization. Make adjustments if necessary, and celebrate successes 🥳

Take the time for thoughtful consideration, employee involvement, and alignment with your desired future state. Lay a solid foundation for a positive and purpose-driven culture that empowers employees, guides decision-making, and drives long-term success. Remember, core values are not just words on a wall but lived principles that shape the identity of your company.

Looking for help with this process? Learn about our core values resources.

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