A person has morals and values that they live by. These morals and values help them to make decisions and prioritize what means the most to them. The same philosophy applies to a business. Core values are what a company finds most important to their existence; they are the guiding compass used when making decisions. Without them, there is no direction, plan, or purpose to what a company does or how it operates. Core values define not only who the company is, but the people within it.
“When [core values] are clear, you’ll find they attract like-minded people to your organization. You will also find that when they are applied in your organization, they will weed out the people that don’t fit. Once they’re defined, you must hire, fire, review, reward, and recognize people based on these core values. This is how to build a thriving culture around them.” - Gino Wickman, Traction
Determining core values is just one of the many processes that we model after Gino Wickman’s methods outlined in his book. As a team, we use Traction as our guide for almost every aspect of our company. In terms of core values, there is a proven process for success that we, and many other companies, practice.
The following four steps will help guide you in determining the core values for your business.
With your team, list out the people in your organization who exemplify what your company and mission is all about.
Under each person, list the characteristics you would use to describe them.
From there, look at the entire list you have created. Circle 5-15 characteristics from the list that you find most important.
Finally, narrow that list of 5-15 down to 3-7 core values. This is meant to be a conversation, and oftentimes a debate.
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Core Values Grow With Your Company
It’s only natural that companies evolve, teams evolve, and goals evolve. So why shouldn't your core values evolve, too? Core values are vital to the evolution of your company because they ensure it grows in the right direction. As such, it is important to revisit your company’s core values on an annual basis to make sure that they are still in line with your current team and goals. If your company needs to be agile, so do your values. Your values shift and grow with your company.
If, as a team, you reevaluate your existing core values and decide that they need to be updated, follow the same four step process listed in the section above. How much of the process you need to perform is dependent upon how much you plan to adjust your core values from the previous year. If you decide to scrap them all and begin fresh, follow all four steps. If each core value is still relevant but you want to rephrase them, then follow step four and simply have the discussion.
The process can be as detailed or simple as you need it to be.
The Core Values We Live By
At Hüify, we revisit our core values on an annual basis. Sometimes they stay the same, sometimes they are minorly adjusted, and sometimes we wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. Each scenario has its own merit.
The whole point of revisiting your core values on an annual basis lies within the act of revisiting them. There are no rules for how many you can or cannot change. The beauty is in the process and discussions that come out of revisiting company core values.
When we evaluated our core values at our annual retreat this year, we kept some, rephrased some, and created some. Here’s what we came up with.
Helps First: This is the core of everything that we do. Each day starts and ends with “what can I do to help?”.
Seeks Growth Over Comfort: We firmly believe that growth occurs outside of your comfort zone, and we encourage our team to live there.
Coachable Coaches: Listen and learn from every member of the team. We are willing to be corrected, and know how to act on those corrections.
Communicates Timely, Effectively, and Transparently: We don’t bring up an issue that occurred last month, we address it as it occurs. We get to the point and make sure that the way we communicate is clear and purposeful. We communicate truthfully, no matter how uncomfortable the situation may be.
Resilient: You're going to make mistakes. That's a given. The only option is to learn and be better because of them.
Succeeds Under Pressure: We are put into high pressure situations all the time. We keep a “let’s get this done” attitude. Aggressive goals = agile performance.
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Once you have your core values established for the upcoming year, what do you do next? Well, all that’s left to do is live by them, work by them, eat, sleep, and breathe by them. Put them on your website, hang them on the wall, tattoo them on your body. Do what you have to do to put the values to action.
Everything you do should have your core values in mind. It’s as simple as that. Have any additional questions about creating core values for your business? Let us know, we’ll see how we can help.