Core company values are the main principles that define the culture of the company’s work.  They help to make more successful decisions, better motivate employees and generally help company development. How to define core company values more successfully?

Where to begin?

As when planning different business processes, when defining core values, it is necessary to start with a plan. First of all, this should include what the goal is, who are the people, with who you will define the core company values, and how will it be done. For example, to define the core values of a company, you can organise a brainstorming event involving several employees of the company, from representatives of the management level to representatives of each department.

Define the goal

Once you have defined the team that will participate in the identification of values, it is important to first make sure that everyone understands what the core values of your company are – a small set of essential, sustainable principles that define the culture of your company. Overall, it is composed of up to five, non-exclusive but complementary values.

If at the outset, the team participating in the identification of core values is not “on the same wavelength” about what the core values of the company are, what their role in the company is and what they can contribute to the company, it is likely that agreeing on core values will be difficult. The process of defining values is too important, and confusion or misunderstandings should be avoided, so make sure you set a clear goal and expectations.

Consider what you want to see more frequently in your company

One way to start thinking about the core values of a company is to think about what would be the perfect employee of that company. What characteristics does the perfect candidate possess? How do they work? What is their attitude towards customers and what is it like towards colleagues?

For example, maybe you’re looking for someone who doesn’t consider working with others as a duty and instead enjoys learning from teammates’ approaches and opinions, really enjoying the strength of teamwork. This might indicate that teamwork and collaboration are important values in your organisation.

First, consider these questions yourself by defining your “perfect employee”, but then you can ask the same questions to other colleagues. It’s a simple way to find properties and values that appear again and again – it’s a trend worth discussing with colleagues in focus group interviews.

Organise focus groups

To identify the core values of your company, you can have focus group interviews with the team that will participate in defining the values. In order for the focus group to be successful, it is necessary to prepare in advance by defining the issues that will be discussed in it. The questions to discuss in the focus group interview could be: what matters to all of us; what brought us all together and keeps us together; what will help us when we have to make a hard decision; what are the things we like in our company; what can we as a company be proud of?

Collecting answers will give you an idea of what is important for the company’s employees, and might reveal some unwritten values that already unite employees. Of course, you will get a lot of different answers in the focus group, but a maximum of five should be selected as the core values of the company, so a value selection process will certainly be necessary.

In order to select values that could potentially become the core values of a company, the focus group can meet again, asking other questions, such as: whether what we believe now will be important to us in five and ten years; whether we would be happy to work with a colleague who is in line with these specific values; whether we are prepared to declare these values to the general public and be proud of them as a company; can we attribute the selected values to cooperation with customers, colleagues, internal business development and product development?

Identify the values that best reflect the company

Of all potential company values that have crystallised in focus groups, you should choose ones that are best suited to the company currently, its operations and its future plans. Core values must be specific, but they must give a sense of the “whole picture”. For example, values can be: honesty and openness, teamwork, caring about people, flexibility, sustainability and others.

Introduce each company employee to the values

Once the company values are selected, they must be presented to the whole company so that every employee knows what will be the themes the company will be following. Ask employees to also provide feedback on the chosen core values – perhaps they can see what should be changed to better match the company or give advice on how to talk about them more successfully by highlighting the correct emphases.

Maybe your company already has core values, but they have not been defined as values until now. Maybe identifying and implementing the core company values will be an unprecedented process. In any case, the process of defining values will be a little different for each company – you have to find your own correct approach.

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