27 August 2016

Core values: How do I determine my –companies- core values and why?

Core values are the most important values for and from an organization, but also from an individual. These are the values that are the foundations of the choices you make as an organization or individual and for that exact reason are not in question.

The core values of an organization are the basic values on which decisions are based, the ship an organization floats on. People can address you based on these values. We call this Accountability: you stand by your values and you are accountable for them.

Core values are the ethical compass of a business; they indicate what a company deeply pursues. It gives an image of the identity of the company. It gives a view of the foundation of a company, from which the organization or company works and what underlies their existence.

Core values are in a company’s genes. They do not indicate what a company does, but how they do what they do. And also: why a company does it.

If they are applied and implemented consistently, then an organization is approachable or accountable for those values and they are decisive for and to customers.

Mission, vision and core values

Of course there are a lot of companies that have core values. They’re usually linked to the “mission of the company”. My definition of Mission is: a mission defines the existence and identity of your organization.

By means of a mission you indicate who you are, what you do and what you stand for. A mission is also called a mission statement.

Your mission is actually timeless, but to applicable at this very moment. A mission is, in contrast to a vision or strategy, not in constant debate [1].

Examples of companies with a clear mission are:

Zappos: We’re a company that offers the best customer service and we sell shoes.

Apple: We want to make working easier.

9292ov: We help people travel from door to door in a pleasant and efficient way.

Often a vision is also named in this framework. A vision is inspiring. A vision gives a visionary and ambitious idea of what an organization wants to be. In the definition of a vision you take a look at todays’ world and the chances in the future, and you describe your desired dream situation. This situation is also based on the core values of an organisation.

Core values: examples

As I’ve said, there are a few good examples of core values in an organization:

Bilderberg: 10 core values, like “an enjoying costumer is the crowning glory of my work”

Zappos: nr 1. “Deliver WOW through Service” (from: the 10 Zappos Family Core Values)

Coolblue: “Being yourself, along with your colleagues”

( I’m sure you know a few yourself: ……..)

Core values as the key to success and inspiration

But what am I supposed to do with core values? This is of course what you want to know before you start thinking about the core values of your company or your own core values.

Core values determine the options an organization gives itself; it’s the base, the foundation on the basis of which alternatives can be looked at and from where the choices for the company are made. By making those choices, within the vision and strategy, a direction is decided. Within a successful company, the employees know the mission and vision of the company.

But what’s even more important is: it determines whether an employee can work for an organization in a way that fits them and gives them energy. This energy or passion ensures involvement and enthusiasm: it’s about happiness and the enjoying of the work.

In that case, the personal core values match with the core values of the organization. And all kinds of research has proven that this enthusiasm influences productivity and with that also the profits or continuity of an organization.

How do I discover the core values and how do I capture them?

There is no scientifically proven method to do this and that is fortunate, because determining your core values is something you do together and it should be fun. By all means, it doesn’t happen top-down, but together with the right employees.

But sometimes, especially with family businesses, it is the case that the core values are already captured the history of the organization; the core values have always been there. This is of course not the case, but sometimes it is considered this way. They’ve started existing sometime, they were shared, understood and applied and now they just exist.

For a lot of companies this is not the case yet; the situation is changed majorly, new shareholders got involved, two companies got merged, the company was taken over, and this could be the reason why there are no obvious core values anymore.

The creating of core values starts at all levels in the organization; all teams from bottom to top are involved. In my next blog I will take up seven steps that could help with this process.

Do you have a question? Please contact me: paul@paulterwal.nl

[1] http://www.visie-strategie.nl

From the Week of work-related stress: to the Month of Happiness
An employee is not helpless