Creating Your Company Core Values
Company values are important for having a company you actually like at the end of the building phase.
A business owner can get caught up in the growing and building and forget the values behind the whole organization. Or other people you hired might not hold that same vision for the future and you will be pulling each other apart!
Fix this before it becomes a problem. Take one hour out of your extremely busy work, and set the course for building the business you will be proud of in the end.
As important as they are… there’s a bit of mystery about how you end up with them.
When should you start thinking about them?
Before your first hire? After you have a few employees?
Is there a process for it?
Is this something you know from the start?
Did Zappos and Buffer know from day one what their values were?
Can they change?
So many questions…
The reason you should start thinking about these sooner rather than later is this:
Company values help you make better decisions. (Look at them as your decision making tool.)
Every time you are faced with a decision to make, you can look at them and go, “does this align with my values?”
And if you struggle to come up with values that are unique to you then this short post (and video!) will guide you through a step by step process.
But remember: Coming up with your company’s core values is an evolutionary process. It is not something you set and forget. Expect to go through this process few times until it feels right.
Here we go…
Get very clear on what your PERSONAL values are. What do you believe in? What is important to you?
Don’t discard it if it sounds woo-woo to you. This is important.
And because it can get overwhelming quite fast, here are some questions to help you get unstuck:
1) What are your best accomplishments? (The things you’re most proud of… the things that really made the difference for you.)
2) How do you want to be looked at on your death bed? What do you want somebody to say about you at your funeral? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
3) Ask somebody that knows you really well (husband, wife, best friend, etc). What are your best positive aspects? And what are the negative ones?
Gather everything you’ve come up with in the previous step and select those words or statements you care about the most.
Now go through this shortlist and cross out everything that doesn’t seem to be very unique or different.
You want to get rid of everything that sounds even remotely like something other 155 companies could say.
You want something that’s easy to remember, something with passion behind… something that’s really unique to you and it feels great when you say it.
(This is the step that most people skip.)
Now that you’ve got your (hopefully!) unique list of values, you have to TEST them to see if they work!
Here’s how you can do it:
Look at all your past decisions and pivoting moments.
Moments like that time when you fired an employee, or moved into a new office… and so on. Note down which ones were really successful and which ones were failures.
Now, test your values on those decisions you already made. Compare the values you’ve listed with the actions you did in the past. Do they match?
This exercise gives you a super clear picture of what personal values are actually already aligned with the decisions that you’re making.
When you look at the people you fired in the past, check who among those you fired DIDN’T align with the values you’ve come up in this exercise.
When you went through that epic failure, check if the reasons for the failure match with the values (or lack of them) from your list.
And so on.
Once you go through this step you will notice a couple of values rise to the top even more. Those are probably the ones you’re after.
But you’re not done yet.
Now you really need to pair your list of values down so you only have 3 to 6 left.
You don’t want a huge laundry list of words here. Your objective is to have those 3 core values you can live by.
Ask yourself: If somebody wakes you up in the middle of the night two weeks from now and quizzes you about your core values… will you remember them?
And last but not least…
Now that you’ve tested your core values… you’ve paired them down to only a select few that really stand for what you believe in…
Now it’s time for you to give them to your employees.
What do I mean by that?
Call a special meeting and present it to them. Do it in a way that really shows you care about your team and your company. Your goal is to have everyone in your company get behind your core values.
And there you have it… Your first iteration of your company’s values is ready to go!
But remember what I said earlier.
This is an iterative process. Something you’ll keep going back to and tweak.
So don’t despair if you feel you can’t get it right the first time.
Eventually you’ll arrive to the values you truly believe in and live by.
Examples of Company Core Values
ConversionFanatics Company Values
At Conversion Fanatics, we have a list of company values that we try to instill in all of our employees and new team members that join us.
- Relentless Experimentation
- Have Fun
- Solve Problems
- Build For Long Term
- Confidentiality Transparency
- Team Work
While all of these are important, one of them stands out more than others. It is the first one on the list. Kaizen, which is the art of continuous improvement.
We live and sleep by this one. Everything we do whether it be in operations or servicing our clients, we simply look for areas where we can be slightly better today than we were yesterday. We are in the business of making a company’s marketing better, so we apply that to every area of the business.
One tip for creating your own set of core values is to simply look at what is the most meaningful to you, your staff and your customers/clients. Even more important is to make sure you actually practice them. We even have gone as far as putting our core values on a poster right outside the kitchen in our office so we have a constant reminder of them.
At SixthDivision, we have six core values. These values govern how everything operates at SixthDivision. We live and breathe these values.
- Know where you’re going
- Do the work
- Figure it out
- Create awesome
- Improve your awesome
- Be a force of nature
These are the values that guide our business, our product development, and our brand. As our company continues to evolve and grow, these five values remain constant.
They guide what we do, why we create, and who we hire.
Open company, no bullshit
Openness is root level for us. Information is open internally by default and sharing is a first principle. And we understand that speaking your mind requires equal parts brains (what to say), thoughtfulness (when to say it), and caring (how it’s said).
Build with heart and balance
“Measure twice, cut once.” Whether you’re building a birdhouse or a business, this is good advice. Passion and urgency infuse everything we do, alongside the wisdom to consider options fully and with care. Then we make the cut, and we get to work.
Don’t #@!% the customer
Customers are our lifeblood. Without happy customers, we’re doomed. So, considering the customer perspective – collectively, not just a handful – comes first.
Play, as a team
We spend a huge amount of our time at work. So, the more that time doesn’t feel like “work,” the better. We can be serious, without taking ourselves too seriously. We strive to put what’s right for the team first – whether in a meeting room or on a football pitch.
Be the change you seek
All Atlassians should have the courage and resourcefulness to spark change – to make better our products, our people, our place. Continuous improvement is a shared responsibility. Action is an independent one.
Hi I’m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.Learn More