5 Steps to Define Your Company’s True Core Values

Read time: 8 minutes

The best companies develop core values that impact their company culture, brand, and business strategies. Company values are only effective if they have an active influence and people manage to live by them. Business Coach Roberto Erario provides a detailed process to help you and your team discover the values that are important to the foundation of your company.

The Compelling Issue From Our Customer:

Can you suggest a process we can use to identify our company values? – Ron (Frankfort, Kentucky)

The Powerful Answer From Coach Roberto:

When I help my clients I tend to use 5 different ways to determine the company’s values:

  • Key Situations
  • The Ambassadors
  • Top Rules
  • The Negative Triggers
  • The Desired List

I recommend you use all of them. Depending on the number of people on your team, it should take you between 2 to 4 hours to come up with a list of 5 top values for your company. Let me explain the details of each method of finding your company’s core values:

The Key Situations

Describe 3-5 specific situations that you would consider great examples of what your company is all about (eg. a client had a problem that your team solved quickly and with care; your team worked hard to meet an important deadline but made sure to have lots of fun while getting the work done). After you have the list of situations, all you have to do is go back and identify the underlying values in each situation (eg. customer service, fun, commitment).

The Ambassadors

Pick 3-5 people in the organization who, if they were viewed by an external observer, would be the perfect ambassadors for what your company is all about. Describe who they are “being,” what they do, and how they do it (eg. Brian has energy, passion and is always focused; James is creative, detail oriented and a very positive person to be around).

After you’ve described these ambassadors, make a list of the values that each of them show through their attitudes and behaviors. If you go through this exercise with your team of people, each person can pick their top choices, but you’ll want to select the top “nominated” people (eg. those with the most votes) and only then do the work of describing and identifying the values that they represent.

Top Rules

If you were to introduce only 3 mandatory rules in your company that everyone must follow all the time, what would they be? (eg. always respect each person you are in contact with, always be truthful no matter what, promise a lot and then deliver even more, etc.). After you come up with the rules, list the values that each of those rules represent.

The Negative Triggers

Think of 3 times you got angry/upset/irritated in your business. What caused that reaction? What values were not met? (eg. an employee talking poorly about a colleague; messy working space). Focus on business situations, not personal ones. You don’t want to include the time that somebody was rude to you, but you do want to include situations where you thought “this is a such a waste of resources” or “this person is not showing any commitment at all.”

After you’ve identified the 3 situations, look at the values that were somehow violated and made you angry (eg. ownership, competence, etc.)

The Desired List

The 4 exercises above allowed you to see what is currently happening, and therefore what your company’s current values are. Now, you can integrate those already existing values with 5 values you would like your company to have – even if they aren’t already practiced in any form. Just pick them based on what you hope and plan to see at your company.

Almost done! All you need to do now is to create a long list with all the values you extracted through the 5 exercises above. Then categorize them into 5 separate groups created using criteria that make sense to you and your team. Just scroll through the list and place each of them in one of the 5 groups. Use your intuition and go with the flow. At the end of this process, you just need to choose a definition that represents each group using a single word or even a short expression (a sort of “super value”). Examples of this could be: ownership, respect with integrity, own and lead, care above and beyond.

Don’t rush this part, and don’t worry if it takes you some time to find definitions of your values that you and your team really like. You want to make sure you define your values in a way that is meaningful, inspiring and can be the core of what your company is all about. Remember that the values you choose are the foundation of your company – they can change over time, but you want to feel that they are the right ones.

The last step is to put the 5 values in order of importance and make sure you keep them alive on a daily basis (we’ll talk more about this in my next post). By practicing them everyday at your business, you’ll experience much more clarity and productivity!

As Business Coach Roberto Erario mentioned, these 5 exercises will help you and your team to productively approach identifying your company values. A project management software similarly provides a solution that organizes and simplifies your workflow to help you be efficient while sticking to your company’s core values. With an all-in-one system, your agency can outline the framework for projects as well as allocate tasks, view real-time job status reports and automate timesheets to jobs. Function Point’s Project Management Software can integrate all the information so you can continue to cultivate creativity at your agency.

Know a friend who would find this helpful? Let them know and share this article! If you have any additional questions on this topic, or need some agency advice, feel free to  email Roberto. Comment below if you have questions you would like to submit to Business Coach’s Corner!

Roberto Erario

Roberto Erario

Business Coach

A former executive in the banking industry, Roberto Erario holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Master in Corporate and Executive Coaching. He’s a Licensed Business and Life NLP Coach, a Certified Master NLP Practitioner, and he’s been training and coaching executives and business owners in Europe and North America for the last 11 years. Major past clients include the following: Accenture, Siemens, Hilton Hotels, Dun & Bradstreet, Dorchester Group and Verind - Durr Group.