Sarah Thomas

Your core company values define your organization and give guidance to each employee within the company. It guides you when hiring to ensure that you find the right fit employee for the open position. The core values that define your company create the framework for your company culture. Because your core company values are so integral in every aspect of your organization, it is imperative that you get them right. Learn how to determine what your core values are and how to describe them both internally, externally, and to stakeholders.

Decide Who Will Be Involved

When you’re determining how to define your core values, you first need to determine who will be involved. Will you brainstorm these values with just your leadership team? Or, will you involve the entire organization in the process? There is no right or wrong way to determine your core values – you have to do what feels right in your company culture. If you’re determining your core values with only your leadership team, remain transparent with the entire company throughout the entire process. If you involve the entire company, be mindful of the time you require from each employee. You may opt to use a survey to gather information from each employee regarding which words they most associate with your company’s core values.

What Sets Your Company Apart

Talk about what sets your company apart from other companies in your space. This is your unique value proposition, and it is the basis of your company brand and image. It’s also the foundation for your company values. If a part of your unique value proposition is that your company acts with integrity, then openness and honesty need to be incorporated into your core values. If you’re having trouble determining what sets you apart from the competition, ask your clients or your customers what you do best. They’ll gladly point out why they choose to do business with you over someone else.

Start With a Word or Phrase

When you’re determining the core values that define your organization, start by brainstorming words or phrases that best represent your company and the people that work there. Think of your leadership team, your co-workers, or your team members and come up with words that define how they work. For example, after brainstorming together, you may have a list that looks like this:

  • Accountable

  • Trustworthy

  • Teamwork

  • Honest

  • Visionary

Or, you may have a list of phrases like:

  • Open to feedback

  • Puts the client first

  • Always learning

  • Striving to improve

  • Forward focused

Strive for 5-7 words or phrases that describe your company or organization.

Define Your Core Company Values into Statements

Develop those core company value words and phrases even further into statements. Take the words or phrases, and make them into a heading. Then, truly develop that idea into a value statement.

For example, if your core value word is “accountable,” your core value statement may sound like:

“We always hold ourselves accountable for the promises that we make to our clients, and we own the outcome, whether good or bad.”

If your core value phrase is “open to feedback,” your value statement may sound like this:

“We check our ego at the door and understand that to move forward and be progressive; we must be open to feedback both internally and from our clients.”

Work together as a team to develop your words and phrases into full-fledged statements that truly reflect your company’s core values. Harvard Business Review notes a distinction between core values that you currently reflect versus aspirational values that you’re hoping to reflect in the future as your company grows. Start with the core values that you know you currently live and breathe, while you can create aspirational values at a later time for the purposes of growth.

Incorporate the Company Values Everywhere

When your core company values are complete, incorporate them everywhere, suggests Inc.  Add them to your company website, communicate them internally during meetings, use them in external communications to describe your company culture, etc. Your core values truly describe who you are as a company, so use them whenever possible.

When you’re hiring someone new and want to see how well they fit in with your core values, have them take our assessment and use the PIC report to determine how well the candidate will fit in with your company culture and values.

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