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What Are Core Values?
Core values are the fundamental beliefs and guiding principles of a company. A company’s core values can function as a kind of mission statement for the company, serving as common goals and guiding principles that inform company culture, product development, and the overall work environment.
Why Are a Company’s Core Values Important?
In addition to enhancing brand perception and helping customers build trust with your company, a company’s values can have a profound impact on internal workplace culture and employee engagement. Employees and team members who identify strongly with company core values are more likely to remain satisfied and engaged with the company, thus increasing overall performance and giving your company a competitive advantage.
5 Ways to Create Core Values for a Successful Company
As a business owner, there’s no golden rule when it comes to creating a list of core values for your company. Examples of company core values can be anything, from skillfulness and decisiveness to social justice and environmental sustainability. Here are some tactics and methods that can help you develop a set of values:
- Brainstorm with team members: Gather a trusted team of employees and brainstorm a list of company values. If you’re the boss or co-founder, make sure you demonstrate self-control by remaining open-minded and encouraging the rest of your team to speak with candor. Treat everyone in the room as one team, and narrow down your core values list to a few consensus areas, such as “dependability” or “resourcefulness.” Then, set the list of values aside and revisit them in a few weeks or a month. If the team still agrees with the value statements, you’re in good shape.
- Let your mission naturally define your values: Sometimes, your core values can emerge as a natural extension of your company’s overall mission. For instance, the founders of the Patagonia clothing brand aimed to create clothing with a minimal environmental impact, and their core values of eco-friendly sustainability came to reflect that mission statement. Examine and take ownership of your mission statement and see what core values naturally arise.
- Ask yourself the important questions: Asking yourself fundamental questions about your company can help clarify your core values. One of these questions might be: “What behaviors or actions would the company value over profit?” Maybe your values are hard work, open-mindedness, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Maybe you emphasize a desire to drive change by shaking up the status quo. Or maybe your priorities are a healthy work-life balance and high standards of well-being for employees. Determining the specific answer to this question is likely to elucidate your company’s core values.
- Be specific: In a perfect world, a company’s core values are clearly defined to the point where all decision-making is done through the lens of those values, even down to the hiring process. Your core values should act as the framework through which you hire entry-level employees and handle human resources, and they should be specific enough to attract the people you want. For instance, if your core value is to seek continuous improvement through risk-taking, you would likely shy away from hiring people who privilege frugality and conservatism. You might hire someone who favors poise and timeliness over playfulness if that is more aligned with your company values. In order to be the best company, you should have specific, unified values.
- Look to your customers: Oftentimes, the key to developing core values to ensure a better future for your company is customer feedback. Most customers value qualities beyond good work and superior products—they are looking for a wow factor to separate your company from all the others. Perhaps they want constant improvement in the area of customer service, a people-first approach, or overall reliability and friendliness. Look to your customer’s reviews and feedback, and try to incorporate their advice into your company’s core values.
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