You can build a corporate identity that fills everybody at your company with a sense of pride. When people understand your expectations and the purpose behind every decision, they grow in dedication, productivity, and effectiveness.
You can find plenty of articles online that trumpet the importance of core values. And rightly so; core values play an integral role in building a positive workplace culture. You’ll read about measurable goals, mission statements, set values, and driving your business forward through alignment. But there’s more to core values than just jotting down some fancy statements.
Core values set a standard of behaviors and expectations that ensure everybody is working on the same page, towards the same goal.
Your core values are deeply ingrained principles that guide every action your business takes. They’re non-negotiables that influence every aspect of your company.
Let’s delve into why sticking to your core values can make or break your company culture and how you can ensure your efforts succeed.
Cast your mind back to a company you once worked with and think about the values they claimed to instill. You might remember hearing buzzwords like Integrity, Respect, and Transparency. Sound great, don’t they? Now ask yourself whether these principles influenced your employer’s actions. If they’re like most businesses, then probably not.
Core value principles are hollow, meaningless, and often deceitful statements if you choose to overlook them. You might be fooled into believing, like many leaders, that ignoring principles is harmless. But ignoring them breeds contempt, creates cynical employees, and generates resentful customers while simultaneously poisoning your culture.
Ignoring core value principles wastes an opportunity to craft an identity that generates pride in your workforce. Core values can set your business apart, act as a magnet for like-minded employees, earn respect from potential clients, and win buy-in from your people.
Creating strong values and staying steadfast requires a serious backbone. Are you willing to endure the pain these values can inflict when your most productive employee ignores them to win more business? Do you have the vigilance and guile to monitor behavior without stifling autonomy and progress? Do you have the conviction to reject clients when their behavior contradicts your principles? Can you make the tough decisions?
Many businesses have written cautionary tales that teach us valuable lessons, like refraining from the urge to embark on company-wide value initiatives. A small team of leaders and perhaps a few key workers are drivers of the best value efforts.
Engaging employees seems romantic, but creating values is not about building consensus. It is about creating a set of fundamental and strategically sound beliefs to impose your vision on a broad group of people. When you ask for employee input, you’ll get suggestions from people who might not belong at your business, while insincerely creating the impression that all ideas share the same value.
Once you’ve decided on your approach, you need to sit down and conduct a period of introspection.
Scrutinize how your company operates and distill your actions into a set of core values. You might even reveal values that you dislike and want to eradicate. Once you’ve put your current culture under the microscope, there are steps you must take.
Once you’ve settled on core values it’s essential to ask some serious questions. If you find yourself answering “no” or “I’m not sure,” you need to reevaluate - you’re heading for certain and inevitable failure when you start without conviction.
Make no mistake, it’s not easy sticking to your guns in the face of problems, where it’s easier to cave to pressure. But your mission has a greater chance of success when employees understand that your core values provide the basis for every decision the company makes.
Core values should permeate every level of your business and influence every decision made in its name. Once you’ve laid the groundwork and built the foundations of a healthy value system, you need to reinforce it with action. Nobody claims this will be easy. Staying true under the inevitable pressures of business can demand serious resolve.
But the benefits borne from this authenticity will cultivate your positive workplace culture. You’ll build an identity that fills everybody at your company with a sense of pride. When people understand your expectations and the purpose behind every decision, they grow in dedication, productivity, and effectiveness.