There are many elements that go into building a successful organization, from savvy leadership to a sound business plan, to a roster of talented employees. But the thing that knits it all together, that keeps everyone striving in the right direction, is a strong set of corporate values. It’s what ensures everyone is motivated by the same things and creates a sense of community.


But while many organizations have gotten as far as listing theirs out, fewer of them have figured out the trick to creating values that actually work. Company values are one of those things that have to be done right, if they’re going to be done at all.  


Make values manageable

I can’t tell you how often I’ve walked into the lobby of a business and there they are: a list of the organizations top 15 values proudly displayed on the wall. Having them displayed? Great idea. Having over a dozen to display? Not so much.


This is an extremely common mistake, and I  know that if I were to walk up to an employee and ask them what the company values are or to explain them in their own words, they wouldn’t be able to. Your values need to be boiled down to between three and five key points. If you can’t sum up who you are that succinctly, your employees won’t be able to either.


Values are top down

If your leadership is strongly committed to living your company’s values, their enthusiasm will trickle down the ranks. If they aren’t so enthusiastic, the culture you worked so hard to create will quickly dissipate, no matter what else you do to keep it alive.


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As a leader, culture starts with you. Make a conscious effort to think about the values when you’re in the process of making decisions and equally important, make it clear to those around you what your motivations are. Make it crystal clear that the values are the underpinnings of everything that happens at your organization.


Integrate values into the hiring process


It may be crucial that leaders live the values, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is off the hook, either. Everyone that comes in the door should be evaluated not just for his or her skills, but also for their compatibility with the larger corporate culture. Click here for more tips on integrating culture into your hiring process. (link to next article)


Culture is the framework that supports your company, so it is imperative that it be strong and supported by all employees. But don’t think any culture is better than nothing. If anything, a poorly integrated or confusing culture will do the opposite of getting your employees excited about their work. It’s not enough to merely think up a list of values -make sure you’ve got values that work and that you live them.