Just like a house needs a solid foundation to build upon, core values lay the supporting groundwork for an organization’s success. Core values not only define what is important to your company, but also orient employees in their work . While core values are often associated with the “About Us” section on a company's website, they should play a far more important role.
Core values impact decision-making and behaviour at all organizational levels and how an organization is perceived externally. Choosing your core values should be a rigorous and involved exercise, but it’s often putting them into practice that is the hardest part. How do you translate values into daily behaviours and actions amongst managers and employees? The answer can be found in your company's culture.
Company culture is a combination of behaviours and attitudes found in an organization. Whether crafted intentionally or left alone to develop organically, every workplace has a culture of its own. You may not necessarily see it, but it is there. By anchoring your company culture around core values, your team will more strongly identify with the beliefs and attitudes that will help them be successful within your organization. So how can you create a culture that promotes your core values?
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First things first - clearly identify and establish your core values. Core values shape, influence, and ultimately guide your company identity. They should be used as a guide when it comes to directing business decisions and activities. In terms of choosing core values, consider what is important to you, your team, and your company as a whole. It could be anything from diversity and inclusion to transparency and sustainability. They should be specific and short enough that they can be understood easily, but consider both internal and external audiences.
Now that you have core values established, put them into action. As the saying goes, “If you’re going to talk the talk you need to walk the walk”. Modelling core values is not limited to just managers or supervisors. Each member of your team has the ability to exhibit core values every day, but it’s particularly crucial that leaders set the example. Start prioritizing core values during onboarding - hiring those who genuinely believe in and respect those values. This not only sets the tone of importance placed on core values, but it also communicates your determination for the company, including its employees, to achieve success according to the standards expressed by those values. What about the roles within your organization - how do they align with those values? Being a core values champion means discussing how your company expresses those values and making choices that reflect them. If not, you run the risk of creating a rift between those values and the culture you are trying to create.
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Celebrate and recognize team members who exhibit core values. As previously explored in our blog post on positive reinforcement, praising employees clearly defines and communicates desired behaviours. When an employee is recognized and rewarded for a job well done - or for demonstrating one or more core values - they are more likely to repeat those behaviours. Leaders have the power to use employee recognition and rewards to build a culture that is steadfast in core values. Recognition also means optimized feedback, communication, and transparency. This leaves the doors open for ongoing discussions about opportunities for further alignment and possibly evolving core values.
As the guiding principles for your company, core values cannot be underrated. Rather than leaving them to collect dust and only seeing the light of day when it comes to PR interests, turn the conversation inward. Empowering your employees to embody core values through leadership and recognition will foster a culture that will truly nourish success. Interested in discovering how you can use recognition to foster a culture that promotes core values?
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