Why And How To Define Your Company’s Core Values
By David Henzel, co-founder of TaskDrive—we support sales and marketing teams with personalized lead research and outbound campaigns.
Those with successful businesses know that operating according to a set of core values is vital if you want to be on the fast track to realizing your company’s vision and not get derailed along the way. Having core values ensures your business operations are always aligned with your company’s vision and that they have a positive ripple effect of bringing team members together and ensuring all transactions are transparent. Values serve as both a compass to take your company where it wants to go and a filter to weed out whatever is holding back growth.
What are core values?
Core values are the principles that a business aims to operate by. They should represent the reason and the purpose you are in business. They should also be the mindset that guides all relationships, whether internal or how you handle your customers. Core values should also serve as a compass and filter to navigate through any decision-making process.
Why have core values for a company?
Core company values establish a clear direction for where you want your business to go. This is because core values are literally the answer to our purpose in life, they are the answer to that very important question of “why are we here and how do we want to provide service to others”—whether it be in business, our personal lives or who we show up as socially.
Using core values as guidelines ensures that every interaction, decision and move that is made has a purpose. When the values of your business are clearly outlined, it results in greater clarity and integrity. Values also ensure that every exchange is transparent and calls for accountability when anything is not aligned.
How do you define company core values?
So how does one go about accurately defining the core values their company is going to stick by? Well, you start with the questions: “Who are we?” “What do we want to provide?” and “How are we going to do it?” Ask questions for clarity such as “Are we growing efficiently and moving forward in the direction intended?” and last but not least, “Where are we falling short?”
The core values you define are not set in stone; they can be refined and reshaped at any time. The way to define core values is to start with a collection of meaningful words, which becomes a statement that then evolves into a catchy tagline. I always like to have a phrase or two explaining what each value stands for and a catchy slogan or motto that we can easily recall whenever we need to.
One of the main personal core values that I also have at the companies I run is: “Love, Not Fear. Make decisions out of love and not fear.” For an example of how this value was once applied, I had an assistant who was not doing a good job with company newsletters. But when I sat down and told her that if she did this job with love, the quality of her work would surely improve.
“Own it: Build trust through total accountability,” is another core value that I apply to all of my personal and professional endeavors. At work, we have our core values ingrained and, in many cases, actually written on the wall. So any time one of the members of my team dropped the ball, I just had to point at the wall and say, “Hey man, own it,” and the discussion was over. All my staff can say is: “Yeah, you are right.” Having values memorized as well as written out and ready to refer to makes things a lot easier when communicating with team members.
Other core values I like to live and work by are, “Keep it simple: Only do and buy things that matter as simplicity is the highest form of sophistication,” and “Keep it real: Be authentic and yourself, and if it’s not a ‘hell yes!’ then it’s a ”no.'” The most important core value that is the guiding principle for each of my businesses is, “Deliver value: Enrich the lives of everybody we come in touch with.”
Let values do the weeding out.
Core values in business also serve as a filter to weed out whatever is not truly in line with the company vision. Take Jack Ma, the founder of Ali Baba as an example. His mission is to make doing business easier. Every day he has ideas and people come to him with ideas and say, “Hey, why don’t we do this in your business? It will make a lot of money.” But Ma always runs the idea through the filter of his values asking the question, “Will this make doing business easier?” If so, he says, “Yes, I’ll consider it” or “No, go away.”
Having clearly defined values enables a business to solely focus on what matters most. These ingrained values create a shared mindset among staff, which results in mitigating stressful situations and friction. The same can be said for our personal lives and for how we interact with our family and community. If people, like businesses, know their values and live accordingly, then efforts aren’t wasted on random things and time is actually spent doing what you truly want to do.