Finding value in Core Values

Core Values define who your team are as people. Let's take a look at how they're discovered and their role in building a more fulfilling workplace for everyone.

Scott Wakefield
by Scott Wakefield, Co-Founder
Colleagues Business Meeting

It's so difficult to hire the right people.

Owners and Managers, everywhere.

It's happened time and time again. You find out too late that the person you hired wasn't the "right fit". They're capable but not engaged with the job and don't gel well with the team. Most importantly, they're unfulfilled by the work they do.

So what exactly do we mean by "right fit"? Often, we're unsure! It can just be a gut feeling rather than something easily articulated or measured.

What we do know is: we want our team to be a finely-tuned crew—all rowing in sync, cutting through the waves of issues that our business is facing—but it's just not the case.

Luckily, there is a way to define (and consistently hire!) your "right fit"—Core Values!

Core Values define who your team are as people. They're the guiding principles that everyone lives by and form the foundation of your company's culture. They'll help you attract like-minded people, derisk the hiring process by filtering out candidates that aren't a good fit for your company, and help weed out any existing team members who aren't a good fit.

Before we take a closer look at putting your Core Values to action, here's a high-level recap on how to discover them.

Even if you already have Core Values, it never hurts to revisit the discovery process—you never know, the values you currently live by might not be quite right.

(Re)Discovering your Core Values

Think about your team. Out of everyone, who would you love to clone? Who is the team member, that if you had 100 of them, would ensure the success of your business?

Got someone in mind? Great! Now think about the traits that make them such a valued employee. Do they always strive for perfection? Do they treat everyone with respect? Do they work hard? Write down everything that comes to mind.

(If there are multiple people on your leadership team, do this process with them.)

Once you have a list of traits, start to cull and consolidate them down to a select few, keeping only the important ones. At the end of this process, aim to have a list of around five values. These are your Core Values.

You're going to hire and fire by these values, so live with them for a few weeks, discuss them with your leadership team and make sure they're solid.

Sharing your values with your team

Your Core Values only have an impact once you share them. Your "right fit" team members will think: "that's how we've always done things" and naturally champion them. Conversely, those who take objection to them may no longer be the right fit for your team. (See how they start to work for you right away?)

It's unreasonable for your team to fully understand your expectations on how to live by your collective core values from the short phrases that described the traits you collected, so it's essential to support them with additional context. Here's an example of how we at Club have added a supporting statement to our Core Value, "Put People First":

People are at the core of all we do and every relationship we form is important. We’re respectful, act with integrity and always hold ourselves accountable.

We’re big believers in small gestures and strive to make a positive impact wherever we can. Above all, we work to live and never lose sight of what’s really important.

It's a much clearer picture of how we define putting people first—introducing the ideas of integrity, accountability, small gestures and positive impact. If there's no evidence of these in our day-to-day, then it's unlikely we're living by the Core Value.

Hiring & Firing

Use your Core Values as a tool when hiring. Design your interview process around discovering whether there's an alignment with the candidate and each value.

Share how they relate to your culture and how your existing team live by them. If you can see that it resonates with the candidate, ask how they have demonstrated they share the same values at their previous positions.

If one of your core values is "Put People First", specifically ask: "Can you share any examples of when you feel that you put people first in any of your previous roles?".

Reviews & Rewards

Once you've baked your Core Values into your hiring process and shared them with your existing team, everyone will be on the same page with what they are, their importance, and how they help form your company culture.

Now you can use them during 1-to-1's to ensure that your team members are still the right fit for your company. If they're not continually demonstrating that they're living by your Core Values, you can work with them to change that. If, after a few months, it's still not working out, you'll likely find that the team member already knows that it might be time for them to move on.

When a team member demonstrates a Core Value, be sure to recognise their actions and reward them. Perhaps the continued demonstration of your values is rewarded with extra time off or the accolade of Employee of the Month? Regardless of the reward, be sure to share what they did with your entire team and let it inspire action amongst their peers.

Next Steps

Business Owners: give your Core Values some thought this week. If you already have them defined, are they still accurate? If you don't have them, set aside some time to discover them and then share them with your team.

We've built finding Core Values directly into our Brand Foundations workshop, which may be of interest if you'd like a guide to take you through the process.

If you're working within a team and don't feel you have clarity on your Core Values, bring it up with your leadership team.

It's time to put your Core Values to work, get everyone rowing in the same direction, and foster a more fulfilling workplace for everyone.

Purpose First.

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