6 Tips on How To Design Your Core Values.
- Far too often I see boring, nondescript core values. They usually consist of one word, usually a noun, that says nothing unique about the company and in fact, looks like almost every other company’s corer values on the planet. They usually consist of words like: integrity, honesty, respect, passion, teamwork……. Sound like where you work?
- And I have a problem with this. Why? Because your core values are too important to sound like everyone else’s. They are too important to be boring. They are too important to be generic, apple pie core values that don’t really say anything about WHO you are or HOW you do things in your company.
- So here are 5 tips to follow when designing your core values (of course, that is after you have discovered what your core values truly are)
- Core values should be VERBs, not nouns! Your core values are WHO you do things, which means they should be action statements, or verbs, not nouns! It is the difference between “honesty” (noun) and “Strive to always tell the truth”. Which one wants to make you act this way?
- Get away from the one word core values. Your core values should be a quick action statement. It should ideally describe the action you want your people to take.
- If possible, make it punchy. Punchy is memorable. Punchy shows your attitude. Of course, if your company doesn’t have any attitude, then punchy may not work. Let me give you an example to show you how you can start to understand culture just by hearing a company’s core values. Restaurants almost always have “customer service” as a core value. And they usually simply state those words as their core value. Cactus Club, a BC based restaurant chain, has a core value “the house of yes”. Which restaurant probably has a cooler culture? Which restaurant probably has better customer service? Chances are the cactus club wins on both accounts (and in fact, they are consistently voted one of the best companies to work for in BC)
- If you have boring core values today, it doesn’t mean that you have to change them. Remember, core values should never change (well, that is if you have the right ones, which means that you discovered your core values instead of creating your core values, right?). But you could re brand your current core values.
- Remember, that your core values have a specific meaning to you and your company. “Respect” should mean something different to you then it does to another company who has this as a core value. Your job is to put meaning behind it. And you can start by rewording “respect” to something more unique, like “We CARE” that better reflects your culture. Remember, your core values should make you unique!
- And finally, stay away from having too many core values. 10 core values don’t work. Sure, Zappos (awesome company built around their core values)has 10, but their people don’t remember 10 core values, They remember 4, maybe 5. Remember, your core values make you who you are. And you shouldn’t try to be everything to everybody. (I know this fact because I have asked a large number of their employees to tell me their core values. They stop at 4 or 5. The cool thing is that they consistently remember the same ones). See my post at “Too Many Core Values” for more on this.
Finally, if I were to start fresh, I would really put our brand filter on when I write my core values. I would make them fun and witty, so that they jump off the page. I bet if you did this, it would be easier for your employees to actually take them seriously.