Core Values are a Labor of Love: How Your Business Can Create Them
“Name an experience in your last role where you needed to take initiative and create or implement a process.” Imagine sitting in an in-person interview and having to respond to this question. Do you have a response ready to go?
This is a go-to interview question for me. I like asking applicants questions like this because they refer back to our core value of taking initiative. In every interview, we make sure to tie questions back to our core values. Actually, we make sure to tie our core values to pretty much everything.
How Perfect Search upholds our core values
Core values are present in our internal reviews and employee check-ins. At our quarterly offsites, we go through each core value and give shout-outs to individuals who’ve embodied them. (Snaps are always included). Our core values are even painted on one of our office walls.
Suffice it to say, our core values are very important to us. They are:
- TAKE INITIATIVE: Be proactive, challenge each other, take risks and adapt.
- BE PASSIONATE: Care about your work and take pride in what you do.
- HAVE FUN: Create a positive workspace and build strong relationships.
- VALUE TEAMWORK: Approach problems with a “we over me” mentality.
- ENSURE GROWTH: Learn and evolve personally, professionally, as a team and as a firm.
Now, we love our core values. But they’re not something inherent to an organization. You have to create them–and it can take a lot of work.
The core value creation process
The process of developing our core values was not quick or easy. Once we realized the need for organizational values, we knew we wanted to develop them as a team. This bottom-up approach made sense because we wanted our team members and our existing culture to guide and inform what’s important to us.
The best time to brainstorm core values was in our weekly company meetings. We split up into small groups and each group listed qualities that they believed we embodied. Once we had a full list, we started to notice patterns. Qualities like “taking initiative” and “being proactive” were so similar that it made sense to combine them.
We also didn’t want too many or too few. Our team decided that 5 was a reasonable number that’s easy to remember, while thorough enough to cover all the bases. Then we narrowed down the full list, chose the most important values, and workshopped values. That’s how the core value list above was born.
However, that doesn’t mean the list is static. In fact, a few months later we decided to combine “have passion” and “have pride” into one core value and add “have fun” as its own standalone value.
Lessons from crafting our core values
Now, it’s been almost 2 years now with these 5 core values and I believe they still embody our team. More recently, we actually realized that these values also embody our account service as well. Because of this, we now use our core values in our sales and marketing materials as a differentiator to our agency.
At Perfect Search, our core values are more than just words. They are a way of life. If your business is creating or updating your core values, here are some things we’ve learned:
- Make them detailed with summary headings so they are easy to remember.
- Ensure they are more visible than just being listed in an employee handbook so that they can be viewed on a daily perspective.
- Leverage them within company emails regarding any praise that is given out to teams or team members.
- Revisit them on an annual basis; as your culture evolves so may your values.
To conclude, companies with strong cultures are known to better perform. Although creating and leveraging core values may seem daunting, the impact to your company culture can be tremendous.
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Ajay Pattani is a lifelong resident of Chicagoland and is fiercely passionate about his white wine. If he could be a spokesperson for any product, it would have to be white wine. Ajay says if he could be good at one thing, it would be reading minds. If you could read his now, he’d most likely be thinking about white wine.