[5 Step Activity] Creating Your Company’s Core Values

The What

Company Values are key phrases that define the motives behind your company’s purpose: Who you are and why you do what you do.

The Why

Your company’s decisions are all based around your success. However, achieving that success through honesty and integrity is very different than achieving it through cutting corners and deceit. These can result in very different outcomes in the eyes of your employees and customers.

Think of how the “faceless corporation” is portrayed in our culture. I remember having to watch a documentary in high school about how many corporations would be considered psychopathic. (Wow, The Corporation came out in 2003). When we think of businesses like these, we’re not invested in their success; we just shop there for the cheap socks.

Finding a business with values that resonate with your own has the opposite effect. You want to see them succeed, you’re proud of being a loyal customer, and you’re much more likely to recommend them to a friend. This is the type of relationship your company values can build for you!

The Who

When deciding your company’s core values, it’s important to involve as many people as you can. Don’t just work through these with your executive team—you may end up with a list of values that your employees don’t agree with, which can be dangerous for maintaining company culture.

Employees work best when they feel like the business aligns with their personal values because it helps them understand that they’re a part of something they truly believe in, rather than just a place to get a paycheck.

The How

There are several ways to create or find your company values, but here’s the activity I used to define our core values. Get your pencil and paper ready; reading this alone won’t get you any results.

*This activity is adapted from TapRoot’s Live Your Core Values exercise. As a note, I prefer to follow the below steps because I find that when people are choosing values from a list, they’re more likely to choose values they think they should select, rather than thinking of the ones that are truly important to them.

Step 1 One Blue

Step 1: Have as many people as you can on your team write out a list of as many personal values they have in 5 minutes. These should not be decided with the business in mind. If something’s important to you, write it down!

You’ll end up with a list that looks something like this:

Honesty

Integrity

Innovation

Excitement

Drive

Fun

Creativity

Originality

Diversity

Change

Flexibility

Balance

Fairness

Equality

New Ideas

Selflessness

Challenges

Growth

Communication

Kindness

Relationships

Opportunity

Room To Make Mistakes

Understanding

Trust

Step 2 Two Blue

Step 2: Next, you want to split these into categories. Don’t put too much thought into this; follow your gut feeling. You’ll end up with 3-6 categories that look something like this:

Honesty

Integrity

Diversity

Fairness

Equality

Selflessness

Communication

Kindness

Relationships

Understanding

Trust

Innovation

Drive

New Ideas

Creativity

Originality

Change

Challenges

Growth

Excitement

Fun

Flexibility

Balance

Opportunity

Room To Make Mistakes

Step 3 Three Blue

Step 3: Next, for each list, choose a word from within the category that you think best defines the entire category. This step may seem difficult, but it’s important again to trust your gut. Which of these words really sticks out to you? You’ll now have a few words in front of you like this:

Trust

Growth

Opportunity

Step 4 Four Blue

Step 4: Next, think of a quick phrase for each of these categories that you think could be applied to the business.

Foster a culture of trust

Empower employees to grow with the business

Create opportunity in the community

Step 5 Five Blue

Step 5: Finally, have everyone on your team present their ideas. You’re likely to find a lot of similarities between employees, which will help you narrow down the selection to 5 or 6 core values your company will thrive on.

Remember: employees and customers are much more engaged with a brand that shares their personal values. However, don’t just pick values you think your customers want you to have. People can see when a business isn’t being genuine.

I hope this activity helped you get a good start!

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