The core values of your company are the rules of the game for doing business there. When behaviors align with your values, it leads to employee engagement, and that leads to performance. The essence of your company’s identity, core values define how your company delivers its services and allow the world to see your North Star – the words or statements that guide you.
Core values tell others so much about you. They define HOW you complete your work and how these words align with your Reason for Being statement. Core Values tell everyone:
- How you treat your customers and each other
- How employees work together
- How information is shared
- How work is assigned and completed
Let’s look at Patagonia as an example. They are well known for their purpose and how they achieve their vision.
Their mission statement is “We’re in business to save our home planet.” This simple statement is their purpose, but it is HOW they will accomplish this that gets results. They achieve this by aligning their core values, clearly defined here, to their purpose.
- Build the best product: Our criteria for the best product rests on function, repairability, and, foremost, durability. Among the most direct ways we can limit ecological impacts is with goods that last for generations or can be recycled, so the materials in them remain in use. Making the best product matters for saving the planet.
- Cause no unnecessary harm: We know that our business activity—from lighting stores to dyeing shirts—is part of the problem. We work steadily to change our business practices and share what we’ve learned. But we recognize that this is not enough. We seek not only to do less harm, but more good.
- Use business to protect nature: The challenges we face as a society require leadership. Once we identify a problem, we act. We embrace risk and act to protect and restore the stability, integrity, and beauty of the web of life.
- Not bound by convention: Our success—and much of the fun—lies in developing new ways to do things.
Patagonia makes it clear who they are and how they achieve success. Their employees understand this, and it motivates them to be a part of something larger than themselves.
When people are inspired by their company and feel fundamentally aligned with core values, they are more engaged in their jobs and give their best every day.
Examples of How Core Values Improve Company Performance
A recent Gallup study showed that employee engagement worldwide is at an all-time low of 32%. This number is staggering and needs to be addressed within your company. Knowing how important employee engagement is to your success, it is essential to create a shared mission, one that people feel connected with and are willing to rally around it, giving their best at work. The outcome is stronger company performance.
Another great example of the importance of core values is to study Chick-fil-A. They are known for their culture. I don’t know about you, but every time I go to Chick-fil-A, there is a line across the parking lot. Incredibly, they have a 97% retention rate and are ranked #1 in the casual dining category. This is remarkable when you consider that they are closed on Sunday.
Their purpose at Chick-fil-A is"To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."
How they achieve this is through their core values:
- We’re here to serve. We keep the needs of Operators, their Team Members, and customers at the heart of our work, doing what is best for the business and best for them.
- We’re better together. It’s through teamwork and collaboration that we do our best work. We’re an inclusive culture that leverages the strengths of our diverse talent to innovate and maximize our care for Operators, their Team Members, and customers.
- We are purpose-driven. We model our Purpose every day, connecting our work and daily activities to our business strategy, supporting each other’s efforts to be good stewards who create positive impact on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.
- We pursue what’s next. We find energy in adapting and re-inventing how we do things; from the way we work to how we care for others.
When you dine at Chick-fil-A you feel their core values with every interaction you experience. These words are not just fluff but how they live their purpose.
How Core Values Help Performance
Core values can help performance in many ways:
- They can set the rules for successfully working at your company
- They can attract top candidates who align with who you are as a company
- They allow your employees to employ their talents and feel engaged in their roles
- They show the outside world what is important to you
- They set the stage for your success
When core values are actively living in a company, great things begin to happen. With performance top of mind, employees need to be given clear direction and expectations to achieve. Your core values help them know what is expected in their performance day in and day out.
Core values must be used for EVERY decision you make as a company. From the vendors you use to the people you hire. If you do not live by your core values with each choice you make, your employees won’t either. If you want people to perform at their best, leadership should as well. The reputation of your company rests on you.
Take time to intentionally define your core values. It is more than an exercise; it is the way your company defines success and future performance. We all have personal values, and when we find a company that aligns with our values, we want to be a part of it.
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