Core values are the main convictions with which a person or company operates. These are the main perspectives that shape the behavioural patterns of a person or company, both internally and in contact with others. How can you develop something as personal as values within a company to have a positive impact on professional operations? Can they help us be better teammates, managers and employees? The answer is clear – yes!
The challenge is to create a professional set of core values that match what your business is. It is a hard task because we often do not want to reveal and associate our personal life and value system with our professional life. These values are linked, however, because what we can be as professionals also depends on our own value system.
Core values do not define who we like best at work or how timely we come to the office. Nor are they personality traits that you often think of when you talk about the core values of a company.
Core values as the cornerstones of company culture
Core values are deeply rooted principles that drive all the operations of a company – they serve as the cornerstones of its culture. Authors and organizational theorists Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, in concise terms, define basic values as inherent and highly respected. They cannot be threatened because of convenience or short-term economic benefits. Core values often reflect the values of the company’s founders – an example would be the HP Way created by Hewlett Packard. It serves as a sign of the company’s distinction that needs to be preserved because it defines what the company is. From recruitment to handling a tricky customer, the core values of the company can lead the decision-making process in different situations, but only if they are defined and implemented.
Values as the company’s uniting factor
However, for core company values to work successfully on a daily basis, they must also match the values of its employees. When that happens, the employees get along with each other, everyone is doing specific things for the right reasons, and this shared understanding helps to build great working relationships.
Managing employees according to the core values of a company can help control their work. Once the core company values are defined and implemented, it can inspire employees to work at a higher level, according to the core values. It also allows employees to work more efficiently and be more motivated, particularly if the company values match their own values.
Long-term meaning of values
Ideally, core values are never threatened, “deferred” for later use or ignored. Regardless of the core values defined by the company itself, they must be respected. In doing so, it is possible to achieve better results in marketing, personnel management and product creation. These elements, of course, contribute to the overall success of the company.
How do values limit a company?
Not appreciating values is a bad idea not only because it can damage a company’s culture, but it is also a wasted opportunity. Values can distinguish a company from competitors by defining its identity and serving as the basis for employee unity. But to come up with certain values and stick to them, a good amount of effort is needed. A company considering the use of values must be aware first of all that it may face unpleasant business developments during the identification of values. For some employees, defining values can make them feel marginalized if their value scale is not entirely the same as that of the company. Values can limit the company’s strategic and operational freedom, as well as limit employee behaviour. However, this “limiting” is a good thing – it defines the type of business, the day-to-day practice of employees, leaving less room for free interpretation and, for example, employee behaviour not matching company policy.
However, it is not enough to simply understand the importance of using core values. In order to benefit from them, it is necessary to introduce effective practices in defining the core values of your company and implementing them in everyday life.