Discovering your Core Values and Purpose is one of the most critical aspects of building your business. Values are the DNA of your company and your Purpose is Why You Exist. Please take note of the first word in the last sentence: discovering. Not “creating” or “selecting” or “choosing”. Discovering because like most discoveries, your values already exist in your organization and you just need to find them! Core Values drive better and more autonomous decision-making for your company, provide leverage for coaching your team members, create alignment within the organization, and finally, attract the right team members to your company.
You can learn more about our process to Discover Your Values and Purpose by clicking here, but generally we subscribe to three basic “rules” when going through the process:
1. Inspirational not Aspirational
Your values should be the “DNA” of your business not what you want it to be. For example, if the creativity and innovation of the company comes mostly if not solely from the CEO or Entrepreneur, a value around innovation may not be for your organization as its not what you are but what the Entrepreneur wants the company to be. Your Values should be sentences or phrases where every employee in the company can define and share an example of how, when, where and who lived it at any given time
2. Feedback from Many, Discovery by Few
When discovering your values, its important to solicit feedback from across the organization on the words or phrases that define the company but narrow that group to smaller subset of people who you as the Entrepreneur or Senior leader really live the culture. In organizations under 100 employees, that’s typically a team of 5-7. Under 1000, could be a team of 7-10 and for really large companies, it could be 15-25.
3. Use Phrases and Not One Word
Ambition. Excellence. These are all qualities that most organizations would want, but the way to think about values is that its your DNA, unique to you and you alone. Think about your children or your parents. Hopefully, the word “kindness” comes to mind, but how people show kindness can be very different. We all aspire to be kind but the manner in which we display this attribute is what makes us unique – and you want your Values to describe your Culture in the same way.
Once you have your Core Values defined, we recommend having the values “sit” with the senior team for 3-6 months. Use the Values in communications with each other. Talk about them in meetings. You might add one or change one but when you feel like you’re ready, this is the time to engage the broader team. This is probably one of the top 3 decisions you will make in the history of the organization so make sure you have a set of Values that will define your Culture so you can attract and retain the right employees to execute your strategy.