Updated: Aug 31, 2022
Even though it is easy to recognize their importance, we often avoid the mere thought of putting Core Values or Mission Statements in writing. Why?
If these values are in writing, we feel a stronger obligation to follow them.
Determining your organization's Core Values does not have to be a painful process. Whether you are a start-up or an established organization, take the time to reflect on what excited you about your business, to begin with. Consider what your preliminary plans were; how you believed were going to achieve your goals and what kind of team you wanted to build.
If you have Core Values in place, take this opportunity to review and reflect on their relevance. Is your organization still focused on what these Core Values represent, or are you moving in a different direction? It is perfectly acceptable to amend an organizations’ Core Values and Mission Statement to fit the path you are seeking – just be certain to communicate the changes to team members and clients.
In researching Core Values, you will most likely come up with classic buzzwords such as integrity, honesty, and passion. These are basic principles that most organizations should begin with. Think forward to add on other ideals that you want your organization to embody, such as sustainability, equality, and social responsibility. Do not overthink and do not overwrite. A best practice is to have between 3-7 Core Values that are easy to remember and implement.
As a reference, here are some Core Values of popular organizations:
*We love making ice cream – but using our business to make the world a better place gives our work its meaning. Guided by our Core Values, we seek in all we do, at every level of our business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth’s natural systems. In other words: we use ice cream to change the world – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
The Lifestyle Brand that enthusiastically encourages sustainability, affordability, and love for all seasons of life – The Goods Co.
*The Salvation Army’s core values are: Passion; Compassion; Bravery; Uplifting Spirit; Trustworthiness
As you can see, there are multiple ways to write and articulate Core Values and there is no right or wrong way to format your organizations’ list. Keep in mind that Core Values must be what you (as a leader) believe will guide your organization to success. You must be able to embody these values and exhibit the practice and implementation on a consistent basis. In addition, a detrimental aspect of your Core Values will be how you communicate them to team members and clients.
Please, please do not just read your Core Values during new hire orientation and believe that everyone will remember them, or even realize what they are. Do not assume that every team member has the same passion or interests as you, or that they will just automatically morph into the model of excellence. Being neglectful or taking a lackadaisical approach could lead the organization in a completely alternate direction and cause the loss of potentially dynamic team members.
How can Core Values be communicated and implemented effectively - aside from posting the information and providing it to team members consistently? Leadership must take ownership of the Core Values and make a conscious effort to integrate them into everyday operations.
Know the Core Values of your organization and be prepared to explain what they mean to the organization, and to you as a Leader.
Lead by example. Integrate aspects of the Core Values into team meetings and one-on-one meetings. Discuss how using Core Values in everyday functions can enhance the organizational experience, and use the Core Values as guidance to solve problems or issues that arise.
Have a sincere conversation when you notice a team member exhibiting or rejecting the Core Values. Both instances can be used as an effective team-building platform and lead to a better understanding of the organizational goals.
Building a dynamic team is possible if everyone can understand the vision of the organization. Having clear goals and providing team members with the tools and support to achieve this vision will be your best guide for success.