In our Engage 2022 report, 85% of our respondents reported their company has Core Values, but only half of those people could identify what they were. That’s a startling statistic! Let’s take a moment to unpack that by clarifying what Core Values really are.
Your company’s Core Values define who you are as an organization. They determine the priorities of the company by outlining how you treat your customers and how you treat each other. Core Values are expressed in the way people work together, share information, assign work, and complete it. They are a vital key to shaping your company culture.
Everyone in your workplace should be able to not only recite your Core Values but also define what they truly mean. We’ve all walked into a workplace that has Core Values posted for everyone to see. Maybe your workplace is one of them! It’s time to ask yourself: is what’s hanging on the wall, really happening in the hall?
Share and Discuss
If what’s hanging on the wall isn’t truly happening in the hall, the first step to promoting your Core Values is to share them with everyone. If you’ve shared them before, it’s time to reintroduce them!
We recommend holding a Townhall Meeting where everyone receives the same message, has the opportunity to discuss, and can ask questions. Talk about the “why” in your Core Value decision-making process and ask for their opinions as well.
It’s also important to consider how you will message these to future job candidates. Core Values are part of your company brand and can have a large impact on the number of candidates you attract. Brainstorm how you will portray these on your website, in addition to social media sites such as LinkedIn. Leverage your team’s creativity to come up with inventive ideas.
Once you’ve shared your Core Values with your team, take the time to discuss them. Get to the heart of their importance and gain a mutual understanding from everyone. One technique is to clearly define what each Core Value means and doesn’t mean. For example, at CSS and Up Your Culture, one of our Core Values is Integrity. This means we always follow through and maintain transparency, and we never sugar-coat anything or mislead anyone.
Defining Core Values through behaviors leaves little room for interpretation.
Recognize and Account
At this point, everyone on your team can identify and define your Core Values. It’s time to weave them into everything you do! Recognize and reward people when you see them in action. Use the Core Value by name and let them know why what they did exemplified it.
Consider creating a system for recognition throughout the office. Display a board where people can “Post-It” when they see someone else utilize a Core Value. Incorporate a “Core Values in Action” section in your weekly newsletter and ask for submissions. Include a standing Core Value agenda item in your meetings and allow people to share examples. Each time someone is recognized, drop their name into a hat and draw for a prize at the end of the month. However you decide to recognize Core Values, just be sure to do it consistently.
Accountability is equally as important as recognition. When you see someone do something that doesn’t align, be sure to address it. Stay true to the definition of your organization and simply don’t tolerate people who don’t demonstrate your Core Values.
Consider the Fit
It isn’t enough for your team to embody your Core Values. It’s also important to ensure the people you hire on your team align with them. If one of your Core Values is Integrity, and you find out that a candidate lied on their resume, that doesn’t align! That candidate is not the right fit. Only hire people who bring the same Core Values with them on board.
Taking your Core Values off of the wall and into the hall isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes consistency over a long period of time. Start with small steps, and before you know it, your Core Values will move from idea to action