Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Core Values

HR is often tasked with drafting Core Values. It can be a daunting task - especially when most folks yawn at the mere mention of the words. Like 'mission statements', core values are often perceived as a fruitless exercise. I agree in many cases! I'm against immature start-ups creating values that will just need changing in a month.

However, I think it's good to know that those core values already exist in your organization - they've just been buried in all the busyness. And, when the time is right there is real value in having and living your true core values. In Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras spent 6 years researching organizations that have endured recession and depressions. One of their key findings was that in every case, these companies defined their core values in the very early stages and built a culture of people around them.

The creation process is often one of the problems with core values - without meaning and accuracy they become worthless. And setting them is not an easy task. In his book Traction, Gino Wickman's gives step-by-step instructions to set up your core values.

Get the leadership team off-site for a couple hours.

Step 1: List 3 people (preferable in the organization) that they could clone if the could
Step 2: List the characteristics those people embody ('is never satisfied', 'personal integrity', 'extremely detail oriented')
Step 3: Narrow down the list (edit, circle, combine)
Step 4: Discuss and debate, narrowing down the list to 3-7 values

Let simmer for 30 days, regroup quickly to finalize, and share with the rest of your team. When relaying the values to your team, you need to use stories, anecdotes, and analogies to show your values in action. Once established, use your core values to help you through decision making, in the hiring process and insert it into the common language of the organization.

Do you have core values that are actually helpful? That communicate your mission and enforce the behaviors you need to be successful? Core values that help you stay focused and make decisions?

1 comment:

  1. Good post Matt. Imagine the impact of leading a team on a long journey and allowing people to come along who don't value what you value. In the business realm, it happens all the time. Alignment with a non-negotiable set of core values is essential if you want to enjoy the journey.