Why Your Company’s Core Values Matter & How to Set Them

If you’ve ever worked with a marketing team, they probably asked you what the core values of your organization were. This is because having a strong set of core values works to show the community and your employees the principles of your company, whether you’ve given them substantial thought or not. Additionally, studies have shown that by deciding on and conveying a strong set of core values, you can improve the overall success of your business.

Evidence shows that values are necessary for the health of any given organization. So, keep reading to learn more about core values and how they can benefit your company!

What are the core values of a business?

As previously stated, core values work to define your company, and act as a way to guide you and your employees to meet goals and strive for an overarching vision, according to Forbes. Without them in place, employees and management don’t have a clear sense of direction for your organization’s vision or goals. 

Forbes goes on to inform us that those you have designated as leaders need strong principles to rely on in order to “drive performance.” It’s even more important to have these values in place during periods of change. In order to achieve this, core values need to be the groundwork for why your organization was founded, “how behavioral norms are defined, and how decisions are made” so goals can be attained and your vision is made a reality every day. 

Harvard Business Review stresses the importance of setting meaningful core values. It isn’t enough to just have a few “good-sounding” ones in place if they’re empty. Meaningless core values hold organizations back from achieving goals, visions, and culture, and can even be disastrous! So, it’s important that you take the time to set values that are clear and purposeful!

How to set core values

Don’t mistake goals and general values for core values, HBR reminds us. Core values are “deeply ingrained principles that guide all of the company’s actions” and set the tone for cultural keystones. There is no room for compromise in these values as they are part of the company’s identity. 

The Management Center lists 5 Guiding Principles for Core Values to help companies define theirs:

  1. Core values should “guide and ground” by helping you, management, and employees know how to manage work, relationships, conflicts, and make hard decisions. 
  2. Core values should represent “who you are (or want to be) at your best” to help you achieve your overarching goals and vision by being realistic and achievable. 
  3. Core values should “set you apart” by highlighting what makes your organization unique, special, or even better than others in the industry. 
  4. Core values need to be defined explicitly so everyone knows what you want to achieve by setting them. Otherwise, without meaning, they’re just words that can be interpreted in any way. 
  5. Core values should “advance equity, inclusion, and belonging” by defining goals in a way that will help break barriers, biases, and limiting beliefs within the culture of your organization. 

While there are other types of values that aren’t as important, but can still act as a driving force for culture and short-term goals, core values are going to be what sets your organization apart from others and works to meet your long-term goals and vision!

If you feel overwhelmed by the process of setting core values, HubSpot lists 18 popular core values to help inspire other organizations!

How to get your team excited about them

It’s not enough to have a really good set of well-defined core values. Your entire team needs to be on board and excited about them, too, in order to implement them successfully. Forbes shares a few tips to help you achieve this goal:

  • Live the core values yourself – lead by example
  • Remind employees and management of them often (in meetings, conversations, etc.)
  • Rember to recognize those who are exhibiting positive examples of your values
  • Reward this positive performance to encourage more of it from them and other team members

Having a strong set of core values to define your organization can help you, management and team members mold the right company culture to help you strive for your vision and goals and set you apart from the rest. Following these tips will help ensure that you set the right core values that are powerful, purposeful, and well-defined, and get your employees excited about them, too!