Establishing Core Values for Your Business

Dr. Ryan Giffen

The general goal of most businesses is to generate sales and profit, but this is not what makes a company great. A great company also works to establish a distinguishable identity and stand for something more. Some may hear this and think of their brand, but that is only the external perception of the company. There is also a matter of the internal state of the business and its particular values. Establishing the core values of a company can take some careful consideration, but once completed, these values provide a positive guiding line. 

What are Core Values?

When establishing core values, it is important to first define what this means. Core values are certain values that a business thrives and runs on. Not only does the company display these proudly on their website and mission statement, but they also live these values within the company. Far too many companies will display core values for others to view, but will not actually employ them in operations. Therefore, those core values were created purely for external perception. But, in reality, they may not be the company’s values whatsoever. 

How to Craft the Core Values of a Company

As stated above, core values are what a business truly believes and runs on. This is why it is so important to find what truly resonates with the company’s goals and mission. Establishing these values may not be a quick process and it should not be rushed. It requires a thorough inventory of how the organization should be and wants to be operating. The values may already be in operation and they just need to be identified and codified. Here are some tips that can help:

  • True Value of Sales - Break down what type of behaviors are more important than making a quick sale. Many companies that will employ whatever underhanded tactic necessary just to make a sale, but these companies also often fail in the long run. Take a look at what kind of behavior is ideal from employees and the entire organization. There is a balance that can result in great numbers, but also incredible relationships with employees and customers. 
  • Start from Bottom Up - Starting from the bottom and working up can have beneficial results. Identify employees that already display the kind of values desired. Furthermore, use these as a guideline.
  • Top-Down - Management, and executives are not immune to this process. These individuals should also be willing to display the ideal values and change negative behavior if necessary. 
  • Write it Down - Some may think this process can be done easily in the head, but that is not always the case. Being that this process can take some time, it doesn’t hurt to begin writing ideas down. This helps to work down through various ideas and points so that the actual core values can be isolated. 

Remember, once these core values are fully established, adhere to them. Place them clearly on the company’s website. Put them in new hire packets. Ensure everyone from lower-level employees all the way up to the C-suite knows them. 

Incorporating them in the Hiring Process

Core values can be incredibly beneficial in the hiring process. These values can be used to form ideal interview questions that can vet whether a candidate is a good fit for the company. There are going to be individuals that may have the right skill set, but do not align with the values of the company. The more individuals that are hired without these values, the faster that these values will drop out. The talent pool is immense and it is possible to find a candidate that fits both sides. 

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.