“There is a big difference between being an organization with a vision statement and becoming a truly visionary organization,” writes author Jim Collins in his article Aligning Action and Values. “The difference lies in creating alignment-alignment to preserve an organization’s core values, to reinforce its purpose, and to stimulate continued progress towards its aspirations.”
Defining your core values is more of an art than a science, and it may take some time for the skeleton of your company to form. Consider the following steps to help you along the way.
1. Choose the values that are authentic to your business.
Do not look to the industry standards to determine what your core values are. You shouldn’t be distracted by the “best practices” of your competitors. Focus on the elements that create real value for your stakeholders.
“The key is to start with the individual and proceed to the organization,” writes Collins. Over time, you’ll find ways to distinguish and separate your personal core values from the values of the business.
Sometimes, it helps to work backwards. Negative emotions can be more recognizable, and these sentiments can offer clues as to the ideals your business does not represent. For example, perhaps you cringe at the sight of manipulative marketing tactics; and instead, your organization values honesty and transparency.
2. Rely on values that are dynamic, not stiff and generic.
You must be able to rely on your values in key decision-making processes, both now and in the future. Choose values that will remain relevant regardless of what stage of growth your organization faces.
Collins emphasizes the importance of distinguishing timeless core values from operating practices and cultural norms. “Timeless core values should never change,” he writes, “operative practices and cultural norms should never stop changing.”
3. Build relationships in ways that embody your core values.
Refer to your values in recruitment, retention and sales strategies. Look to hire people who share your core values both on a personal and professional level. “You must attract and then retain these people and let those who aren’t predisposed to sharing your core values go elsewhere,” Collins writes.
Your values are the building blocks of your company culture. Your ideal customers and clients will be those who can easily identify your brand values and are naturally attracted to aligning with you. This will help them develop a faster connection with your brand, building stronger relationships and creating brand loyalty.
Remember, a great brand starts with a solid foundation. At Howbridge we work closely with you to examine who you are, where you want to go and what makes you unique.