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The Power of Company Core Values

Explore the benefits of company core values, as well as the ways in which business leaders can further integrate already-existing values into their organizations.

Core values represent a company’s heart. While some organizations understand their core values intimately, others struggle to put them into practice. No matter what a company’s relationship to their core values looks like, leaders can always work to improve their understanding and utilization of this key element of management.

The Benefits of Core Values

A company’s core values are the principles that guide everything they do. Core values can:

Distinguish a Company’s Identity

A company that understands what it cares about can show how it is unique. When clients, potential customers, and workers all know what a company stands for, the organization increases its competitiveness as both an employer and in the marketplace.

Improve Recruiting and Retention

Employees often want to work at organizations whose core values align with their own. “Employers,” Forbes says, “should trade 90 percent talent for just 10 percent character.” When companies clearly outline their core values, it makes it easier to attract like-minded people who fit in with the company culture; this leads to greater productivity. A company that consistently adheres to its core values also demonstrates integrity, something that can encourage employees to stay even when things get tough.

Influence Behavior

Holding employees to a company standard can help shape the way they do their jobs. When company values are defined and enforced, it can inspire workers to hold themselves to a higher standard. It also makes employee criticism a matter of living up to those values, rather than a personal attack.

Help in Decision-Making Processes

Understanding a company’s principles can help make choices easier to make. For example, if making high-quality products is a core value, anything not made up to par can be thrown out.

Shape Organizational Culture

When companies hire, operate, and hold themselves accountable to a certain standard, it sets the tone for what type of work environment they offer. This allows a company to continue performing at a high level even when circumstances, employees, and leadership change.

Contribute to the Overall Success of a Company

Ideally, core values are never compromised. Whatever cultural standards a company sets for itself, it should hold them well — and indefinitely. Doing so leads to better outcomes in marketing, human resources, and product creation. These elements, of course, contribute to a company’s overall success.

Understanding the worth of using core values isn’t enough, however. To truly benefit from them, effective practices must be set in place.

Reviving Your Core Values

Some companies may still be searching to define their core values. Others may know theirs but have yet to implement them effectively. Still, others may have theirs confused with what Harvard Business Review calls “aspirational” values — those that reflect a company’s long-term goals, rather than their core identity. No matter where a company may fall on this spectrum, there are always ways to improve.

Companies can:

Lead by Example

Leaders are under constant observation by their employees, INC. explains. Seeing leaders adhere to the same principles they enforce is crucial for building trust and cohesion.

Teach Their Values Through Staff Orientation and Training

Formal training on core values is a surefire way to make sure staff are on board from day one. Putting forth this dedicated effort demonstrates a company’s commitment to a certain way of doing business and provides the time and space to explain, in detail, why it does the things it does.

Reinforce Core Values in All Employee Communications

Whether in emails, newsletters, or company-wide messages, repeating core values at every employee touchpoint reinforces their importance.

Recognize and Reward “Value-Centric” Behavior

Companies can strengthen their staff’s connection to the organization’s core values by providing incentives and rewards. These might include bonuses, written recognitions, peer voting opportunities, and more.

Incorporate Core Values into All Operations Processes

Core values should permeate every aspect of how a company functions. This might include only hiring people who are a clear cultural fit, working core values into sales and messaging strategies, shaping customer experiences, or even gauging employee success based on how well they carry out core values in their daily work.

Align Internal and External Messaging

When it comes to core values, the public should know what employees know. Core values should be put on marketing materials, the company website, its LinkedIn profile, and any other relevant place of customer contact. Doing so helps customers understand what an organization is about and helps with meaningful company promotion.

On Universal Virtues

When building and implementing core values, it can be useful to take into account the concept of universal virtues. These, Fast Company explains, are innate qualities possessed by all of humankind. Identified by psychologists Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson, they represent characteristics found universally valuable for happy and productive lives throughout all religions, belief systems, and cultures. These virtues include wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.

Understanding that these virtues exist and the depth of their impact can be a uniquely helpful tool to identifying effective core values that last. Tapping into universal values in a business setting can:

  • Help employees better express their full, authentic selves
  • Help “grow the whole person”
  • Lead to higher levels of employee commitment, performance, and teamwork
  • Improve employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention
  • Increase employee self-awareness
  • Lead to higher customer satisfaction

A company that looks to the ways people naturally excel and find happiness gains from that wisdom. Therefore, any defining or improving core values should, of course, start and end with this consideration.

Leading Your Company Forward

Understanding the impact of a company’s core values is key to becoming an effective leader in the world of business. At Lesley University, our business management bachelor's degree programs offer students a multidimensional approach for gaining real-world skills for their careers in business.

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