What are Core Values? These are the handful of things which how the people in your business act, which set you apart.
Businesses are like snowflakes, every single one is different, so no two businesses will have the same Core Values.
Core Values come from the founders and leaders of a company, and I recommend you decide on three to five.
They are the essence of the people in your business, how you operate, how your team behave, how you want to be regarded – they are the values which call out to you, which resonate and which you feel in your heart.
Our team has to match our Core Values – which is non-negotiable – so we need to hire, fire, review and reward based on them.
One example: if you have a business which 24/7, your culture is to always be on: if you get an inquiry at 11pm or an email, someone will respond. If you hire somebody who turns off their phone at 5pm and says “you know, night-time it just doesn’t work for me”, they might not fit into the culture. It’s not that they can’t do the job, they just might not match the company’s values.
We want to attract the people that are like us – who match our Core Values – and repel those that aren’t.
How to define your Core Values
We believe they are discovered – they already exist, and in EOS we facilitate a discovery exercise and have a tool called the People Analyser which helps us to test them.
Once we discover them, the three to five Core Values, we then define them, so that when we use the words everybody understands what we mean, and then we go about perpetuating them, living them in the business.
Leaders can’t just talk about them, they have to walk the talk and demonstrate the Core Values day to day in the business.
Bold Clarity Core Values
To give you an example, here are our five Core Values, which every member of the Bold Clarity team matches.
I want to be good at what I do, but not arrogant. I’m a constant learner, when I think I know everything about a topic, so I stop learning. I like to have a beginner’s mind, open to learning. I need to know my stuff, while remaining vulnerable.
Grow or die
I’m more uncomfortable standing still than with moving forward. I constantly have to be changing and growing. So, the people I on-board have to be able to do that with me, otherwise they are not going to be a right fit for me. If I challenge them to keep growing, they’re going to embrace that, because they want to do it too.
I genuinely get a kick out of helping. I help to help, not to get something in return. If you call me wanting advice or support, I’ll figure out how to give you some time, because I genuinely want to help or refer you to someone I know can help.
Do the right thing
I work in teams with between 10 and 250 employees and sometimes there are two people who are not getting along. If there’s a conflict on the leadership team, I have to help facilitate an honest conversation, to resolve it, because it will keep the company from getting what they want. However uncomfortable it might be, I have to do the right thing.
Do what I say
If I say I’m going to do something, I need to deliver on time, in full. It is ok to say, but I need to finish what I start, and take responsibility.
Do your team match your Core Values?
As I mentioned, it is crucial that all your team share your Core Values.
There are three people on my team: two are contractors and one 30-hour person who is on a salary. Whether they are contractors or staff, they all must match these core values.
Take my executive assistant, Susan. She is totally humbly confident. She’s a trained lawyer, and she didn’t tell me until we had worked together for three years. I was surprised and impressed, but she’s really humble – she just doesn’t brag.
Grow or die: she’s a constant learner, she’s always watching videos and learning something and saying “here’s what I discovered at a webinar”, she’s just a ‘grow or die’ person.
Susan is always ‘help first’. She’s always asking “is everything ready for your session: even at 7 in the morning when she’s getting her daughter ready for school. She is always ‘helping first’.
She always does the right thing. She doesn’t have any shares in my business, but she is always saying, “this is going to make us more profitable” and making recommendations.
And finally, she does what she says – if she says she’s going to do something, you know it will happen. She’s reliable.
What is someone doesn’t match your Core Values?
What if you have someone who performs well, but doesn’t match your Core Values? They’re hitting the numbers, they’re performing, we think we can’t live without them, but they’re hard to work with and annoying their colleagues.
Let’s take the hypothetical example of John, who is in sales. If we were seeing if he matches my core values, we would discover:
- he’s not humbly confident because he thinks he knows it all, he can be arrogant,
- he doesn’t like to learn new things, he thinks he knows it all
- he does not like to help others because he’s self-serving and only looking at his commission,
- he doesn’t always do what’s right for the greater good of the business,
- he doesn’t always follow up when he says he’s going to do something.
I hope you don’t have any Johns in your business, but if you do, my job is to convince you and give you the confidence that he will do more damage than good. Even if he’s hitting his numbers, in the long-term he will have a negative impact on your culture and your business. You’ll have to people-manage him all the time, which will cause resentment among other staff, and you’re not spending time with the people who match your Core Values, are for the greater good, and perform.
If we keep him, they will start leaving, because we are always making exceptions for John so there is not a fair playing field. When you face this reality and John does leave the business, most of the time, your best staff will ask what took you so long.
Other examples of Core Values
Once you have your core values, it’s not enough just to list them somewhere and forget them.
You need to repeat them frequently – we suggest every 90 days – and highlight people in the organisation who have gone above and beyond them. In your quarterly reviews with your direct reports, you should talk about how they are or aren’t matching them, with three specific examples in the last day to week.
You need to make sure everyone knows them matches them and is living and working by them.
One company I worked with made her Core Values into postcards, which they posted around the office, and sent handwritten notes out to their clients on. They are:
- Teach and learn.
- Caring and helpful.
- Efficient, effective, reliable.
- Enthusiastic and energetic.
Another client’s are:
- Drive to improve.
- Relationships first.
- Positive energy and inquisitive.
Your company’s Core Values go to the heart of who you are as a business and how your people act and behave.
Discovering your Core Values is first question we answer as a part of creating your company’s Vision, when we are implementing EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System). This is a framework which you can run your business on so it reaches its full potential.