Core valueYour values are the behaviors you expect from your people. Values are clear statements of how you expect people in your company to act. Furthermore they must:

  • Provide a moral compass for your people. They can help your staff decide on the right course of action, regardless of the challenge they face.
  • Establish a basis for consistent decision-making by everyone.
  • When people share the same Core Values, they tend to make decisions using the same principles.
  • Give you some guides for hiring, rewarding, disciplining, and firing.

Think about companies with strong Core Values and cultures like Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Zappos, or Enterprise Rent-a-Car. People often say that “a certain kind of person” does well there. Those are the people whose personal values match the company’s Core Values.

Keep Core Values Simple

Here are some questions we want you to answer and think about:

  • Who in your company is a living example of “the right behavioral standards”?
  • What is your company known for?
  • What behaviors are so important that you’ll fire anyone who doesn’t consistently demonstrate them?

Southwest Airlines Defines Core Values

One key to Southwest’s success is its culture, “the way we do things around here.” One of Southwest’s most powerful cultural values is related to the concept of “fun.”

Southwest is clear about its values, and it hires people who have the same values and will fit into the culture.  Southwest’s number-one hiring criterion, the one they look for first, is a sense of humor. Southwest has designed a hiring process that helps them make smart decisions about whether a candidate has a sense of humor.

  • Your Core Values provide a moral compass for your people. They can help people decide on the right course, regardless of the challenge they face.
  • Your Core Values give you a basis for consistent decision-making by everyone.
  • When people share the same Core Values, they tend to make decisions in the same way.

Get started NOW!

Step 1: If you had to rebuild your company from scratch, name the 5 people you’d hire first because they behave the way you expect your people to behave. Forget functional skills and roles for a moment and identify people who act the way you want everyone to act, regardless of role:

Step 2: Use 3-5 word statements to describe the behaviors that are common to all of these 5 people.

Step 3: What behaviors has your company always been known for, or stood for no matter what the circumstances?

Step 4: Using 3-5 word prescriptive statements, list the top 5 behaviors you want demonstrated by everyone in your company? State very clearly the type of behaviors you expect from all your people, regardless of role.

Step 5: Core Values are “musts” not “nice to haves”.  Do each of your chosen Core Values pass these 3 tests? If not, they are NOT Core and should be eliminated from your list.

  1. Would you actively confront a colleague if he or she were not demonstrating this behavior?
  2. Would you spend money (or leave on the table) to uphold and demonstrate this value to your team?
  3. Would you fire someone if they could not demonstrate this value consistently, even if they were an excellent performer otherwise

Step 6: Where will you display your Core Values so they are clearly visible to your people every day?

  • Keep visible at all times
  • Test people – everyone should know them by heart
  • Reference them when making management decisions
  • Share Core Value stories at weekly team meetings, where everyone must share a story of where someone in the team lived one of the Core Values
  • Awards for the people who best exemplify your Core Values every month

Step 7: How will you incorporate your Core Values into your recruitment process and performance appraisal process?


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