Top businesses are about more than just sales and profit. They have a clear company identity and stand for something on the inside. A company’s identity is best described by the core values that the entire organization lives and breathes. Because your company’s core values drive how you do business and keep you on-mission, you need to develop and communicate them, so everyone is on board. Follow these guidelines to establish your company’s core values.

Ask Three Questions

To determine your company’s core values, have your team ponder three questions. First, which behaviors will your business value over making a fast dollar? For instance, if an employee chooses to honor the core value rather than make a sale, such as disclosing a flaw or feature a customer won’t like rather than hiding it, will the team member be rewarded rather than reprimanded? Second, when should the needs of the team be put above the needs of the customer? For instance, should a customer be let go before your team quits due to the customer’s bad behavior? Third, when and how should the success of your team be collectively rewarded rather than unfairly rewarding employees who appear to be superstars? For instance, if your sales team is excelling due to fantastic customer service, should you reward only your top salespeople or everyone on the sales and customer service teams?

Brainstorm, Group and Eliminate 

Defining your core values involves clearly understanding your mission statement and establishing how to best serve clients, employees, and the community. Brainstorm with leadership to determine three to seven core values that matter most to your company. Ask your team to consider which coworkers best demonstrate what your company stands for and the key attributes of those employees. Group together similar characteristics and eliminate nonessential ones. When you get to a short, essential list, come back to it in a month to see if it needs altering. Have friendly debates about which core values define how you want to approach everything you do at the company. Once you’ve finalized your core values, announce them throughout your company.

Communicate Core Values

Be sure your company’s core values are communicated and implemented in a variety of ways throughout the workplace. For instance, include your core values on your company website and in your employee guidebook. Read aloud your core values at weekly meetings. Create interview questions based on your core values. Incorporate core values into interview questions and onboarding activities to attract and keep the right employees. Award quarterly or annual recognition for employees consistently displaying core values to reinforce their importance. Highlight values that need strengthening. At Madison, we believe so strongly in our core values that each person on the team has them on their desk.  Explore our core values here, to understand how we do business and what drives us.

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