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The Importance of Developing Core Values

Like people, every company has its own ‘personality’ or culture. Company leadership, regardless of the size of the business, defines the core values that are the basis for the business culture. So, what does this really mean?

LL Bean created their core value statement, known as their ‘Golden Rule,’ in the 1920s. Employees have come and gone, but the values of the company remain steadfast:

Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, and they will always come back for more.”

Core values set the tone of your business, both for your customers and employees. These values are the basis for your reputation and success and tied closely to the goals and objectives of the business. Employees do not create your culture and values, you do. If you sense that the values envisioned for your company need ‘fixing,’ action is required. The workplace environment is the place to start. Have you created a work environment that is positive, encourages employee growth and independence, and nurtures respect and teamwork?

Recruiting and retaining personnel that represents your core values is an important first step to creating an effective workforce. Keeping your employees engaged, giving them an opportunity to grow and feel a sense of accomplishment creates a loyal and dedicated team.

The image of your company is tied closely with your core values. If your values are easily conveyed, you have a strong competitive advantage. What comes to mind when you think of Amazon, Facebook, Nike, Uber, or Harley-Davidson?

If your organization has never fully articulated your core values, it may be time to get started. Select a small group of 5 to 7 employees from different areas of the business who are considered high performers and have a sense of the organization. They are in a position to brainstorm a list of values and define them.

Seven steps to develop your core values:

Step 1. Assess your current organizational culture.

Step 2. Review your strategic plan.

Step 3. Determine the culture needed to achieve your plan.

Step 4. Determine if your current values need to change.

Step 5. Define what your chosen values really mean.

Step 6. Incorporate your values into all of your organization’s processes and practices.

Step 7. Develop a communication plan so all stakeholders can learn about your values.

Both the exercise of articulating and writing a company’s (or family’s) core values can be a powerful and illuminating exercise.   It is also important to review your core values on a regular basis and ensure your practices, policies and procedures accurately reflect these values. As the saying goes, it is not what you say that counts, but rather, what you do!

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