Simply put, company values matter. Every thriving company culture has a clear set of core values supporting the organizational purpose and leading employees to a shared mission and purpose. Company values also bring your company’s ‘’why’’ to life, and set expectations around how people in the organization should conduct themselves and treat others. In this guide, we’ll explore three steps to identify company values and why they matter in more detail.
3 Core Steps to Help You Identify Your Company Values
Have you noticed the sheer amount of cookie-cutter values that have cropped up in recent years? When it comes to building out values, many companies use a formulaic copy-and-paste approach, emulating businesses such as Google for inspiration - a brand universally lauded for its company values. However, this one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. When companies ‘’steal’’ values from others, they end up with generic statements that are not reflective of the actual culture and the people behind it. To avoid the copycat approach, let’s explore some approaches that will solidify your unique company values:
Step 1: Conduct mini-interviews
Start by observing and noting down what words best describe your company culture as it is - today. Ask around and do small mini-interviews with relevant stakeholders, including employers, founders, and key customers.
Consider asking the following questions:
- What’s the “soul” of our company?
- What are we here for - what value do we add?
- What would the world miss if we were not here?
- What is it like working for and with us?
- What are the people working in our company like?
- What value do we add as a company - what is it we deliver and do?
- Imagine our company had to close down. What would people say to honor our work contributions? ? What was unique about us? What would people miss about our company and its mission?
After conducting all the mini-interviews, scroll through your notes. Notice what words people use to describe what your company stands for, what is unique about you, how it is to work with and for you, and what behavior people employed in the company possess.
2. Benchmark values against your company vision, mission and strategy
Now, look at your vision, mission and strategy. What is it? Where are you aiming to go? Then ask yourself: What values/key behaviors will get us there? Are they the same as the ones revealed throughout the interviews?
3. Choose 3-7 guiding values: Once you have completed the above steps, you can get to work on solidifying and identifying your top guiding values.
Put your company values to work
Now, identifying your company values is not enough. If you really want them to guide you and your employees when making daily decisions and interacting with each other and customers, you need to put them to work. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your values are "lived" in the organization:
1. Define what they mean:
Once you have an adjective for each value, you need to clarify this with a further description. For example, the word “respect” is very broad. Give some examples of do's and don'ts exemplifying what a word means - for you as a company.
- Be kind when you speak and interact with others
- Be mindful of their time - deliver on your promises
- Treat others as equals
- Do not talk down or be aggressive towards others, no matter what the situation may be
- Do not waste people's time
- Don’t look down or behave condescendingly towards others
2. Incorporate values into organizational processes:
- Incorporate your values into the hiring process - define some questions you can use to check off whether the candidate seems to possess the values or not.
- Use your values when you conduct performance reviews and have 1:1 meetings - give the employees examples of how you believe they are living the values daily.
- Integrate them into your development programs, leadership training, workshops, and other meetings.
3. Revisit the values once a year:
- Do they still hold true?
- Are they still guiding the company in a way that will help it succeed?
- Do people live by our values or do we need to reiterate them, and run a workshop to further discuss values?
Although company values are an important part of your organizational fabric, they mean nothing if they are not lived and exemplified regularly. To do this, ensure you are following a step-by-step process to weave your core values into your organization’s fabric.