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How to Build Core Values that Actually Drive Success

In last week’s post, I shared our story about why we scrapped our core values and started from scratch. So in this blog article, I’d like to share everything we’ve learned that could help you develop core values that drive success for your company.

 

What are Core Values?

Core values are a fundamental set of beliefs held by the company. For example, a company might say: “We believe in being Honest”. This provides a guideline for how to interact with customers, colleagues, or anyone else, and helps to shape company culture.

Core values provide a foundation for all decision making. Sticking with the example above, if an employee is faced with a situation where a customer is willing to pay for several services but unaware of a package rate, the employee would be ‘Honest’ in letting the customer know about the better package option. Even if this may lead to lower revenue for the company, the employee’s behaviour would reflect a core value of the company and strengthen its brand.

Ultimately, core values identify the internal behaviours that will help the company succeed in fulfilling its purpose

 

Benefits of Core Values

Attract the right candidates

Core values can be used as a benchmark to identify and hire candidates that have similar beliefs and values. This will ensure new employees will work well with your existing teams, and will be more likely to build real relationships with their co-workers. As a result, their engagement will increase and voluntary turnover will decrease. A study done by Tower Perrins found that 90% of employees who felt engaged had no intention of leaving.

 

Improve internal communication 

A set of core values can provide guidelines on how to communicate with colleagues. This will allow everyone to understand workplace expectations and deliver clear messages. Without clear guidelines, confusion and insecurity can create roadblocks that may prevent employees from completing their work effectively.  

Core values can also provide a framework for any difficult conversations that need to happen to keep things moving forward.

 

Help employees make better decisions

Core values can serve as a compass to guide employees through difficult decisions they may face. They allow for a complex set of problems to be put through a simple filter, ensuring the success of your company is at the forefront of decisions being made. This is especially important for decision making in fast paced environments.

Build culture and community

Core values provide the foundation for company culture by getting employees to behave consistently. This in turn can help create a strong sense of community. Harvard Business Review speaks on the significant benefits that community can bring to your business, including higher levels of employee performance and customer loyalty. 


Identify star employees

By establishing core values, you can actively start measuring how often employees demonstrate those behaviours. Not only can this help to provide feedback during performance reviews, but it can help to identify star employees that are driving success for the organization.

 

Boost the brand

Core values can help to ensure there’s a consistent brand message. They provide a guideline for employees on how to behave and communicate with customers. They also provide a guideline for all independent decisions made by employees, to ensure they align with the collective direction of the company, and represent the brand. 

 

How to Implement Core Values

Create or revamp core values

Get together with key employees and brainstorm the behaviours that are currently driving success for your organization. From these ideas, group them together into similar categories and narrow it down to the most essential values for your company. For current employees to be able to get on board with the new core values, you need to ensure that they are true to your organization. Also, don’t be afraid to change your core values as your business grows or evolves, as it is key to reflect the current internal drivers of success for your company.

Looking for examples? Here are the core values from some extremely successful companies: 


Slack Core Values

slack


Microsoft Core Values 

microsoft



Spotify Core Values 

spotify

 

Communicate core values

To ensure that core values are at the forefront of your organization, it is essential to communicate them to your employees throughout all aspects of your business. Post them around the office to help keep them top of mind for employees, send them out in internal newsletters or memos, and discuss them during team meetings. 

 

Example set by leadership

It is crucial that core values are demonstrated by leaders of the organization. Leading by example is one of the best ways to see changes among your employees. It’s very difficult to ask employees to behave a certain way, if their bosses don’t adhere to the same standards. If certain executive decisions were influenced by core values, these should be explained during meetings so employees can fully understand the importance and relevance of the company’s core values. 

 

Hire based on core value

During the hiring process, core values should be included in the job posting and the interview. Ask potential candidates to list the company’s core values (to see if they even read the job posting or website) and how they have demonstrated the core values in their past professional or personal life. 

Another option is to present a hypothetical challenge and ask how the candidate would resolve the issue. Listen to see if they identify any of the core values as guidelines for making their decisions.

 

On-boarding Training

Highlight the company’s core values during all new employee on-boarding. Provide examples of when current or past employees have demonstrated these core values, so new employees can better understand expectations. It will give them something to strive for, and hopefully become the example for future classes.

 

Recognition program

To really set your company apart from competitors, give your people the tools to actually recognize employees in real-time for demonstrating core values. The more recognition employees receive from exemplifying core values, the more likely they will be motivated to repeat those behaviours.

The number one reason people quit their job - they don’t like their manager. Now, it’s difficult to solve for terrible people that somehow managed to get into a managerial position, but just imagine that your managers have a tool in their pocket where they can immediately recognize a high performing employee. Imagine what that could do for productivity and helping to retain the people that never felt tangibly recognized outside of the annual performance review. 

 

Performance reviews

Prior to a performance review, ask the employee’s bosses, colleagues and team members how that employee has demonstrated the company’s core values. Then during performance reviews, ask the employee how they have demonstrated core values. This will allow you to address any concerns, remind the employee about the importance of the company’s core values, and measure improvement at the next performance review meeting.

 

Fire based on core values

If someone has behaved in obvious contrast to the company’s core values, it’s important to get that person out the door, even if they excel in other areas. Keeping an individual who does not align with your company's core values, can hurt your culture and send the message to your current employees that the core values don’t really matter. Take a stand!

 

Summary

Implementing core values can help attract the right people, improve communication, lead to better decisions, create a strong community, identify star employees, and build a stronger brand. It’s critical to integrate them into all company operations in order for them to be effective.

Brittany Forsyth, VP of Human Relations at Shopify, said: “Determine what behaviours and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them.”

If you're looking for a bit of help building core values into your organization, contact our team anytime to chat strategy.

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What’s next?

In next week’s post, we will explore one of the biggest challenges for HR professionals - How to develop a top notch recruiting process. It will cover:

  • 5 key benefits of a great recruiting process 
  • 5 steps to build a great recruiting process
Hope you’ll join us for the discussion. Have something you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Muucho Guusto :)

Skai

Skai Dalziel

Written by Skai Dalziel

Skai is the Co-Founder of Guusto. He leads the Customer Success Team, and loves helping HR leaders build workplace culture by sharing his experiences from working with thousands of companies.

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