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A company’s values help guide the organization and play a significant role in building a cohesive team. Core values are more than words—they reflect your company’s operations.
Because shared values in the workplace can profoundly impact the organization and the company’s growth, intentionality is crucial. As your company grows, its culture and core values will develop naturally, but not always how you want. If you’re not intentionally defining shared core values, harmful or undesirable ones might crystallize along the way.
Shared values in an organization that resonate with the team, suppliers, and customers go a long way toward building trust and driving growth. How? Read on.
Shared core values are principles and beliefs by which you and your team do business. They can shape the organization and help protect your company from itself and keep you on a predetermined path. Generally, shared core values consist of three to seven short, unique, and simple but actionable items that can be easily memorized and understood by all team members.
They should be difficult to misconstrue or manipulate and challenging to change or overlook. Unique shared core values are essential for setting your business apart from the competition.
Values sharing can also help build trust among employees by showing that management cares about their well-being and development beyond expectations for employees’ behavior.
One of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is define your team’s shared core values. People want to work with those who share their beliefs. A great set of shared core values help attract like-minded people with similar visions for the company who will contribute to and thrive in your organization.
Beyond enabling employees to work together efficiently toward similar goals, shared values in an organization give employees something to rally around and build their careers on. They help employees understand what success looks like at your company, which provides them with direction and purpose in their values at work. These values also help attract new talent by showing potential candidates what they can expect if they join your team.
Further, as consumers, we are attracted to companies whose purpose and values resonate with our own. Those who feel connected to a brand will be more likely to buy from it over competitors who don’t share similar beliefs or morals. They might feel this brand understands them as people rather than just dollar signs. Many will actively avoid companies with values they don’t resonate with.
The most successful companies have shared core values, and it’s common to express them as intent statements stemming from the company’s mission statement. For example, “Our mission is to deliver excellence in customer service” can be distilled into a central core value of “customer success.”
Shared values examples include:
Beyond words on the wall and a pleasant company culture, core values can drive business growth and improve financial performance. Companies with aligned cultures and innovation strategies see 30% higher enterprise growth and 17% higher profit growth than those without aligned cultures and innovation strategies.
Core values are a central part of building company culture, and they help you define your company and shape your strategy. They can inspire employees to work hard toward common goals, keeping them engaged and curious.
Core values can help guide long-term strategic planning and focus, acting as a filtering technique for everything from new hires to new products or services. They keep the company on track rather than chasing opportunities that might look good but not align with your mission. Something that doesn’t fit your core values shouldn’t be pursued or introduced into your business, regardless of how talented the person or how lucrative the opportunity might appear on paper.
Core values also help avoid short-term gains that negatively influence long-term objectives. For example, imagine trying to build a company culture and sustainable business that lasts for decades. It would be foolish to sacrifice your future by cutting corners today for a few extra dollars—even if it seems like an easy win.
Core values can also help you create a unique selling proposition that sets your company apart from other companies, especially in sectors where many other businesses offer similar products or services at comparable prices.
People talk about shared values and usually mean the things that matter most. Don’t assume that your employees innately understand and resonate with the company’s core values, especially if you haven’t yet taken the time to define them as a team.
If you don’t take the time for it, employees will bring their own (and may not be aligned with yours). It can lead to conflict and miscommunication because different people in your organization may value other things—and people tend to think their values are the best!
Include employees in setting goals and objectives and create opportunities for employees to share their ideas and get feedback from others with different perspectives on things that might help drive growth within your organization. Regular conversations about how employees can contribute to achieving the vision will make them feel like they are part of the team and better understand how their work helps achieve this goal.
For example, maybe you want to be the world’s best at producing sustainable cat furniture. Your vision should include how much market share you hope to capture, team size and turnover, plus any other metrics necessary for the success of your business.
Core values might include:
The best way to guide employees to find shared values in the workplace is by building a sense of teamwork and family. The first step is to involve the team in defining the company’s core values, which are aligned with the owner’s and founder’s values.
Although the owner or founder may know what they want regarding company culture, creating a sense of ownership with your employees is essential.
Look at employees’ values and what the team sees in themselves. Many companies already have informal codes of conduct, which can be a good starting point for identifying existing values within your organization. You may not even know about them unless something causes conflict between employees or customers.
Consider as many different perspectives as possible and avoid being judgemental. Getting everyone on board with this process can help reduce significant conflicts once you roll out your new values.
The next step is to help your team identify their shared values. You can ask them to brainstorm what’s important to them and what would need to happen to ensure the business’s future success. They should describe their values in concrete terms that can apply in everyday situations, building a shared understanding of what the team stands for and how they want to behave.
Once you know your team’s values, it’s time to cluster the inputs. Select the top few that resonate with a majority of your team members. Next, go deeper into the values selected to define concretely: What do they mean? How will we live out these values? How do customers benefit?
Don’t underestimate the importance of values in the workplace. Shared core values are a powerful tool for driving business growth. The best companies have strong and clearly defined shared core values that make company team members feel like they belong, and these values encourage the team to grow together and work hard to achieve the company’s mission.
Strong shared core values are only effective when all employees (including the leadership team) understand and live by them. Creating a clear path to follow will help you build a team full of people who share your vision and will fight to grow your business effectively.