Company Culture: Core values

Feb 4, 2013

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By: Mike Green

Core Values That Mean Something

Having a clear set of core values sets the expectation level for both employee, and customer. The development process however, is usually not clearly executed. Typically, its approached by developing a committee of the management to develop a bloated document filled with platitudes in righteousness. Establishing core values is one of the hardest exercises a company goes through.

What Are Core Values

Core values are something that requires great introspection and honesty. The same credence must be held by both President and rank and file employee in the development process. Once a target is established, all parties must concur on its accuracy. They must, without diversion, hold true to that core set of values. Every decision must be dictated by and pass the test of the core values. Sadly, most companies don’t have core values defined. Because of this, there is always a disconnect between rank and file and management.

The Enron Test

How about these core values:

• Communication – We have an obligation to communicate.

• Respect – We treat others as we would like to be treated.

• Integrity – We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely.

• Excellence– We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do

They sound pretty good right?

Would you be surprised if I told you that these were Enron’s core values? Sadly, it’s true.

A Great Example

One of my favorite examples of a company that lives and breathes by their core values is Zappos. I love this company. Not because I’m into shoes (although I have bought shoes from them and was truely wow’d), but because of the culture that Tony Heish has created. Below are Zappos core values:

Deliver WOW Through Service Embrace and Drive Change Create Fun and A Little Weirdness Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded Pursue Growth and Learning Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit Do More With Less Be Passionate and Determined Be Humble

You can read in more detailed descriptions of their core values at this link:

Tony’s book, “Delivering Happiness”, goes through the Zappos process in how they created their core values. But what’s more interesting is his description of how they LIVE the core values. In every decision, in every way. Anyone who is interested in creating a better culture within their own company or the company they work for, should invest in that book and take the time to digest it. It’s fantastic.

Make 2013 the year you establish a set of core values for your company. That investment will pay dividends for many years to come if you do.

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