When I took on HR responsibilities at NR Media Group, I was assigned to interviewing candidates for our open career positions. I used a lot of the typical interview questions to determine if the candidate would be a good fit, but I also like to know if we're a fit for them.
For that reason, I always ask what the candidate looks for from a company and one of the points that came up in almost every interview was a need for a strong company culture. You would assume it would be medical coverage or great pay, but far and above those was the desire to be a part of a great company with great culture.
Although NR Media has only been in business a few years, I can say with gusto that we have a well-defined and transparent culture. This is due largely to the development and implementation of the core values that we call our 7 Northstars.
Our core values define who we are as a company as well as how we work as a team and with our clients. We live by them, work by them, and regularly find ourselves using them in our daily speak and decision making.
If your company is searching for a way to solidify it's culture, defining company values is an excellent starting point. Let's dive deeper into what core values are, why your company needs them, and the consequences of their absence.
What are Core Values?
Core values are guiding principles for your employees that show them how to be a successful part of the team. They define who you are as a company and who you invite to work with you.
For your team, core values should serve as a guide to help them decide right from wrong. Are their actions aligned with your company's core values? Do they demonstrate the values of your company when they are on the clock?
For your clients, your core values speak to who you are as an organization, and to the type of person you hire. They give a glimpse of how you do business and what the client should expect from you professionally. By looking at your core values, a potential client can see if your ideals align with who they are and what kind of service they need.
For us at NR Media Group, core values are the rules we play by. They support our vision and help define us as a team. We use them to make business decisions, hiring decisions, and to guide us in our communication with one another. We know we have the right person in the right seat when they "Live our Northstars".
Why is Defining Core Values Important?
Think of your company's vision as a destination. If the vision is the final destination, then core values serve as a path towards that vision. Without core values to help your employees understand what is expected of them, they will form their own path, possibly getting distracted, losing their way, or making their own less efficient path.
Core values help to guide employees actions and attitudes. Without them, your team may not understand where the lines are, how to tell right from wrong, or how they are expected to communicate.
A lack of core values can also hinder your ability to make great hiring decisions. Without core values to help you understand who your best player should be, you will hire blindly and perhaps find yourself in a perpetual state of turnover.
By defining company values in the early stages of growing your company, you ensure that you will attract, hire, and retain the right people.
A company without core values may also have trouble deciding what type of client works best for them. Many companies make decisions on who to work with based on budget, but core values should come into play when bringing on customers as well.
If your core values don't resonate with a potential client or new hire, chances are they won't work well with your team either. People who are like-minded will work well together because the values they find important are the same.
How to Define Core Values Of A COmpany
Starting from scratch? Here's a quick guide on how you can define core values of a company:
1. Who are the rock stars on your team? If cloned, who would make up a power-house team that would lead your company to the top? Have your team decide who those folks are and write them down.
2. List out the qualities these people have that make them a top performer. What characteristics do they have that make them successful? Make a list of these qualities. There is no limit to how long this list should be, but shoot for at least 25-30.
3. Narrow down this list by deciding which qualities are the most important to your business, and cross out those that aren't. You should have a list of about 7-15 qualities to choose from for step 4.
4. This is where you really boil down to the most important characteristics that embody what your core values would be. Take a look at the remaining characteristics and mold those into values that can demonstrate who you are and who works for you.
You can have as many core values as you need to define who you are, but generally 5-7 is a good range to shoot for.
Keeping Your core Values Alive
Once your core values are defined, make sure they are well communicated. We had our 7 Northstars illustrated, and we display them in our collaboration room for all to see. Our visitors know exactly who we are because we literally hang our beliefs on the wall.
Make an effort to lift up those who demonstrate your values. Choose an employee every month who actively lives and works by them. If you see or hear about an employee exhibiting a value, make sure to praise them to the team.
Don't be afraid to tell the world - your core values are sacred, but not secret. Sharing and displaying your culture is a great way to open the door to the kind of people you want to work with.
What are your companies core values, and how do you keep them alive in your culture?