Your Core Values drive employee experience as well as the experience you create for your customers, suppliers, partners, and stakeholders. Perhaps most importantly, your Core Values must be true to your organization, and your organization must be true to your Core Values. Defining Core Values that are not true to how your company operates or aspires to operate is assured of failure. People will see right through weak, bogus, unclear, or unrealistic Core Values, and that will erode the sense of trust that is critical for all successful businesses.
A company’s Core Values reflect what every person in the organization believes and stands for. These values create a sense of shared responsibility and accountability. Every important work decision should align with at least one of your Core Values.
In the early days of Virginia Business System’s history, we didn’t have written company values. At that time we didn’t understand the importance or the purpose of having written Core Values. In fact, we thought they were something big companies had so they could create a positive image of themselves in the marketplace. We didn’t think that writing down our Core Values was worth the effort.
What we didn’t understand was that we actually did have Core Values, we just hadn’t written them down, discussed them, or communicated them to anyone. The Core Values came about after we had worked and spent time together and recognized the ideas and beliefs that we had in common with one another, and the way our thought processes came together when we had important decisions to make. Perhaps one of the most practical benefits of having Core Values was being able to make individual and independent decisions that would align with each other’s decisions even when we were not in contact with one another.
In business, it is extremely important to make sure that your clients and prospects understand what your Core Values are. Eventually, your Core Values will become inseparable from your brand. In fact, your Core Values are a competitive differentiator, and they attract like-minded organizations to your business.
Much like your current customers, potential new clients also care about your company Core Values. When a prospect discovers that you both have common Core Values, you could have a much better chance of winning their business than another company that doesn’t share the same values! For example, if one of your Core Values is “being committed”, you will probably attract new customers who appreciate commitment from their vendors. That is a good reason to understand the business values that your leads and prospects have.
Your Core Values help your employees understand what your company stands for. Clearly communicating your Core Values to your employees means they are more likely to make sound decisions that are aligned with the company's vision and goals. Well-defined Core Values provide solid moral direction which helps to guide employees in difficult situations. In an unstable world of rapid technological, environmental, and societal changes, a strong set of Core Values is a much-needed North Star that helps employees navigate challenging terrain.
When employers don't have strong Core Values, their communications with their employees can become inconsistent and unclear. This often leads to confusion and employee dissatisfaction. With clearly defined and executed Core Values, you can significantly improve internal communications within your organization, and help your employees internalize those values.
When your employee communication process is built around your Core Values, it helps boost employee motivation and engagement. When you explain your Core Values to your employees and the reasons why you stand behind those values, they will have a better understanding of the organizational objectives and will work harder to achieve them. Engaged employees have a clear picture of their personal goals as well as the company's goals. They will have a much better opportunity to achieve what they set out to do.
Company values are extremely important when it comes to attracting and retaining talented employees. Most jobseekers do hours of research before applying for a job. They study company websites, discussion forums, social media, and any other information they can find about the companies they want to work for. They pay particular attention to company review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Google. Job seekers invest time and effort in researching a potential employer because choosing the wrong company can be a huge waste of time, money, effort, and personal capital. Likewise, a bad hire can cost an employer tens of thousands of dollars in onboarding investment, not to mention the cost of disruption that results from employee turnover. Promoting your Core Values to job seekers reduces the likelihood and cost of poor hiring decisions.
Clear and compelling marketing messages require a deep understanding of your company Core Values. In order to achieve credibility in your industry and your marketplace, your internal and external communications need to be consistent. Organizations that haven't set clear Core Values usually struggle with their marketing and communication strategies. Marketing teams that understand what the company stands for are much more successful in acquiring leads that successfully convert to net new business and revenue growth.
When we first set out to define our company Core Values, we didn’t really know where to start. We knew that there were some general guiding principles that we used to direct our decision-making and how we dealt with our customers and each other. But narrowing it down to five succinct Core Values was a challenge. Like many other successful, fast-growing companies, we were so fixated on acquiring customers and getting the work done that we hadn’t given our Core Values much thought.
Defining your Core Values is never easy because you have to take all your positive company attributes and behaviors and distill them down to the “vital few” that will reflect your company belief system and culture from that point forward.
After much deliberation and discussion, we decided on these five Core Values:
• We are Committed
• We are Respectful
• We are Passionate
• We are Client-Focused
• We Do the Right Thing
While these Core Values may seem like straightforward, common sense goals, they must be communicated, accepted, and internalized by every team member before they can have any tangible benefit.
The past year has been a real test of our company and our Core Values. The market, our community, and even our employees were anxious and questioning the strength and resiliency of our Core Values and whether we would have the fortitude and determination to stand behind our Core Values.
It turns out that our Core Values were there for us when we had a difficult decision to make, or when our direction during a particularly trying time wasn’t clear. We were able to apply our Core Values to the situation, and in almost every instance, our Core Values provided clarity and pointed the way.
We are grateful that we took the time and effort to identify, define, communicate, and internalize our company Core Values. If you have been thinking about your own company Core Values, or if you have questions about our Core Values, please contact us for more information.