9 Keys to Keeping Your Company’s Core Values Alive

In his previous blog post, Business Coach Roberto answered a question about how to define your company’s true core values In this post, he offers advice on how to keep these core values alive, after they’ve been created.

The Powerful Answer — From Business Coach Roberto:

Together with your company’s mission, company values provide a framework that defines the hows and the whys of your company’s operation. Ultimately, they should be the base of each decision made at any level of the organization.

Your agency’s core values help reflect a consistent brand image and foster unity among employees. They act as a compass that guides your agency’s direction, strategies, and stakeholder interactions. Core values also play a key role in attracting and retaining top talents who align with your purpose and beliefs. You can use core values to differentiate your agency from competitors and build trust with clients and partners. 

Unfortunately, hoping that your values will be fully embraced by everyone in the company and people will behave accordingly to the values is just that: a hope.  There’re many challenges that threaten the preservation of your company values. Here’re the most common ones.

The Challenges to Keep Company Values Alive

  • Shifting priorities and external influences: Core values can be challenged by changing market conditions, industry trends, or evolving customer preferences.
  • Growth and scalability: As agencies grow and expand rapidly, there’s a risk of diluting or compromising core values to accommodate new markets, products, or employees. Striking the right balance between adaptation and steadfastness can be difficult.
  • Leadership changes: Leadership transitions can disrupt the continuity of core values since new leaders may have different perspectives or priorities.
  • Employee engagement and alignment: It can be hard to implement the same set of values among team members who have different beliefs and motivations.
  • Lack of accountability and reinforcement: Without clear accountability mechanisms and consistent reinforcement, core values may become mere slogans or buzzwords.
  • External scrutiny and public perception: Agencies are under constant scrutiny from stakeholders like customers, partners, and the public. Aligning actions with core values and managing public perception can be challenging, especially during times of crisis or controversy.

9 Best Practices to Sustain Your Company’s Core Values

Your company values may sound great, but you need to be strategic and deliberately plan different ways to make sure they stick and eventually become common practice. To overcome the above challenges and live your core values, follow these proven strategies:

1. Repeat Your Values Often

Repetition is key to awareness. Having your company values on the wall is a good idea, while only reviewing them once a year is not. Make sure to mention your company values regularly (ideally on a daily basis; at least weekly). We need to hear, read and experience something several times before it can become part of our way of routine. So, any meeting is a perfect occasion to repeat them in different ways (you don’t want to just monotonously read them to your team). For example, during key meetings, you can explain the reasons for making certain business decisions by relating them to one or more company values. By explaining what values drive your choices and actions in a specific situation, you are creating a context for what is important to the company.

2. Lead by Example

Effective leadership is crucial in upholding core values and setting the agency’s tone. As agency owners, you must personally embody the core values and consistently demonstrate them through your actions and decisions. Leading by example inspires your employees to follow suit and align their work and behaviors with the agency’s values.

You should communicate the importance of core values and actively engage with employees to fortify their significance. By nurturing a culture of trust, respect, and accountability through words and actions, you create an environment for core values to flourish.

3. Encourage Everyone to Share

Make sure you are not the only one talking about the core values. You want everyone to be accountable for practicing them and sharing stories or describing situations that show how the values were put in place or could be found.

Create easy ways for employees to speak, such as internal gatherings or newsletters. Promoting open communication and feedback channels creates an inclusive environment that respects employees’ ideas and contributions. By providing methods for sharing experiences and insights, you can cultivate a sense of ownership and pride. This process strengthens core values, promotes learning, and encourages new ways of incorporating them into daily work.

4. Acknowledge the Good Stuff

Everyone likes being rewarded for doing well.  Recognizing and rewarding behaviors that exemplify the core values further reinforces their importance. This can be achieved through public acknowledgment, performance-based incentives, or creative initiatives that celebrate and showcase the agency’s values in action. 

During weekly and quarterly meetings, make it a routine to have people share the ways they made the values come to life, or situations where the values where violated and they did something to fix it. And then make sure you praise them for their actions because we build our habits much faster when we receive rewards (even if they are just symbolic). You could even create a contest for the best behavior that is a representation of each value. By introducing some fun challenges like this, people will enjoy participating in the process, and they will continually be thinking about and breathing the core values—which is the goal! (By the way, the opposite is also true: make sure you reprimand and correct behaviors that are not aligned with your values).

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5. Use the Values Over the Entire Working Experience

In addition to mentioning them in different ways during meetings, your values should also be used in the following:

  • To create job posting for each position in your company
  • During the hiring process (to make sure the candidate understands them, and that he/she is aligned with the culture of your company)
  • As a guideline to define job descriptions for each position in your company
  • To build the evaluation grid that’s used during performance appraisals – so you can relate some of the good and bad performance to the fact that the values were either empowered or not
  • Integrate your values into specific procedures. For example, if continuous improvement is a core value, make it mandatory to hold post-project meetings to discuss improvements for workflow, product, and teamwork. By linking your values to specific procedures, you ensure that they are actively practiced and embedded in the day-to-day operations of your agency.

6. Training and Development

Ongoing training is essential for creative agences to bolster core values and develop staff skills. Incorporating core values into training programs helps employees understand their importance and how they impact the decision-making process. 

Here’re some ideas:

  • Provide general and department-specific training sessions to ensure your team members continue living by the core values. 
  • Explain precisely the meaning of each value, and set clear expectations for employees to join the values into their daily work.
  • Emphasize your agency’s values for employees’ career development paths to align personal growth with organizational values. 
  • Design mentorship programs and coaching sessions to help staff connect their values with the agency’s, fostering purpose and fulfillment. 

By investing in these training and development initiatives, you can enhance employee skills and strengthen a values-driven culture.

7. Hire and Onboard Based on Core Values

To maintain a vibrant culture, creative agencies must hire and onboard team players who align with their core values. During the hiring process, your recruiters should assess candidates not only for their skills and experience but also for their values and attitudes. Conducting behavioral interviews and thorough reference checks can help determine the candidates’ compatibility with your agency.

Once hired, new employees should undergo an onboarding process that familiarizes them with the company’s values, mission, and culture. Provide them with the necessary resources to establish a value-based work life, and create a comfortable environment for them to ask questions about how to combine core values into their daily tasks. Platforms like GoCo are often used to facilitate the onboarding process effortlessly.

By carefully selecting and onboarding individuals who share your agency’s core values, you can unify a collaborative workforce that consistently delivers exceptional creative solutions.

8. Communicate Your Values Externally

Include your core values in external communication efforts. While core values primarily influence employees, customers and clients should be aware of them as well. Display your core values statement prominently on your website. Consider sending emails or newsletters to your customers to explain how your core values contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction. This way, you establish transparency and align your company’s values with the client’s expectations.

9. Constantly Improve

Each quarter you can focus on one single value. This incremental approach is especially effective if your company has just begun to implement core values (or revised ones). Ask your team: “What do we need to change, create, and improve to live by and show our company values more?” Collect all the ideas and select one or more initiatives to implement these ideas. This is a simple but powerful way to consistently elevate the way your company values are experienced.

It’s crucial to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of core values and make necessary adaptations. Periodic assessments can gauge the conformity of employee behaviors with core values, detecting room for improvement. Seeking employees’ feedback through surveys, focus groups, or conversations can uncover valuable perspectives to refine your value set. 

Make sure to maintain flexibility and openness to change during this evaluation process. Staying attuned to industry trends allows your agency to adapt its core values to the evolving landscape. This may involve revisiting and redefining the values to ensure their continued relevance.

Final Thoughts

Eventually, by leveraging these nine factors, you’ll create an environment that is shaped around your company’s values. This will lead to them being acted on almost automatically. You’ll notice that some positive behaviors will be elicited and reinforced, while other ones, that are not aligned with the company values, will not be tolerated (this works for actions as well as for people). As a result, your team will be much more cohesive, with high morale, less conflicts, more clarity and higher productivity.

And I believe these outcomes are well worth the small investment of energy and time you need in order to keep your core values alive and vibrant.

As Business Coach Roberto Erario mentioned, these are 9 tips for ensuring your company values are properly implemented so that they’re like second-nature for your whole team. 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 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

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.

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