10 Ways Core Values Work for You

This post originally appeared on July 18, 2012.

I believe core values are one of the most powerful mechanisms at a leader’s disposal. Core Values are nothing more than the short list of beliefs that a leader articulates to guide the formation of the organization’s culture. Core Values should become the DNA of an organization.But first, there is a prerequisite… 

Digital illustration of a dna
For these values to add value, leaders must: Know the values. Share the values. Live the values.

Here are 10 ways Core Values add value.

1. Core Values create a common language within an organization. Once your values are established, you’ll need to begin the journey to ensure the ideas and concepts are clearly understood. Don’t assume publishing the words alone is sufficient.
2. Core Values establish norms of conduct and approach. By definition, your Core Values are the beliefs that you want to inform/drive the behavior within your organization. Once you communicate the values, people will begin to respond accordingly.
3. Core Values set the priorities of the organization. Not operating priorities – cultural priorities. Culture is the most powerful force in any organization. Your values, once firmly rooted, are your culture.
4. Core Values, when rank ordered, establish behavioral priorities as well. Disney’s values are Safety, Courtesy, The Show and Efficiency, in that order. Therefore, it is clear that a character in the park should always abandon the show to respond to a safety issue.
5. Core Values can be used to screen potential employees. Some organizations attempt to hire people and then teach them to live the values. I’ve always been an advocate of selecting people who already embody the organization’s values.
6. Core Values provide a standard against which people can be evaluated. Many companies evaluate employees on both traditional performance metrics and adherence to the Core Values.
7. Core Values accelerate the contribution of new employees. There is a natural tentativeness in people when they don’t know what is valued in a culture. Without overt declaration of Core Values, new people may spend many months attempting to figure them out.
8. Core Values create a platform for leaders to articulate and demonstrate what matters most. Done well, this builds the people’s trust and confidence in their leaders.
9. Core Values provide strategic opportunities for recognition. The behavior you recognize and reward will be repeated.
10. Nothing will shape a culture faster than Core Values articulated, modeled and recognized in practice.
Does EVERYONE in your organization know your Core Values? Think about the power of getting everyone aligned around what matters most.[GLS_Shield]
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