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How to Identify Core Values in Your Company

Monte Wyatt & Brad Sugars, Feb 04, 2020

The core values for your organizational culture are something your company must explicitly create, lead, and manage. That's because they determine how your employees act and behave toward each other and the rest of the world.

Core values also enable external audiences like customers, suppliers or investors to understand and value who your company is and what it stands for.

So how do you create your core values? You base them on behaviors that are already alive in the organization. You need to be willing to hire and fire based on them.

Here's how to go about it.

Look first to your executive team. Identify the five to 12 members there who influence your company. These people must be committed to developing and guiding the culture of the organization.

Arrange a brainstorming session to discuss the particular behaviors of current team members that you want everyone to imitate. You might identify dozens of behaviors among the team. Describe people's behaviors using specifics. For example, say – "speaks plainly," rather than, "is open."

Use behavior-based phrases to describes each of the desired behaviors that you identified, and write them down. Use behavior-based phrases such as this one, " "Communicated orally in a well-organized, courteous, and effective manner so people know what your company culture expects from them.

Sort the list by topic, to come up with six to eight themes..

Describe each behavioral value using a word or phrase. Then create a short sentence that names the value in terms that are meaningful to your organization. Each phrase is a core value that describes the company’s desired culture, such as: We make decisions based on our values and our goals.

Then, implement core values. Train, communicate, and reinforce these core values in daily practices.

You can do this in a variety of ways. You can use core values to make decisions, to evaluate options. You can use core values in hiring, to see if applicants fit the culture. You can use core values to review someone's work-related performance. You can provide development feedback according to how well someone lives the company's core values. You can even use it for personal development, in identifying core values someone should enhance or improve.

To recap, use existing behaviors in your company to identify the company's core values. When you've identified your core values, you'll be able to live by them every day and implement them into the aspects of the company where they’ll have the most impact on your culture.

We'd love to hear from you. What are some of the core values you've identified in your company? Thank you for sharing.