I must admit that the knowledge and implementation of core values for me personally has been a challenge. During the inception of our design agency, we didn’t have a set of guidelines or organisational core values. Like most entrepreneurs, my days were spent on firefighting issues, chasing shiny objects, answering support queries and busy with normal activities. That’s when I realised I needed help.
The awakening, as I would call it, happened when I stumbled upon the book ‘Delivering Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh. I would instead call the book - The adventures of Tony Hsieh. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook over my commute from Wembley Park to London Bridge on the busy London underground. With my headphones on and oblivious to my fellow passengers, hearing Tony narrate the book himself was fresh, exciting and engaging.
Before the book I had no clue of Tony or Zappos (Zappos is an online e-commerce store based in the US, which got acquired by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2Billion). I picked it after browsing the recommended book category. I was looking for a reference in the business category but had no idea what was in store.
Over a period of two weeks, I completed the audiobook, and since I enjoyed it greatly, I listened to it again. Hearing Tony’s story opened up my mind; It was clear I had to spend time building the core values of our agency.
If you haven’t read/heard the book, I would highly recommend it and won’t spoil it for you. In a nutshell, Zappos is known for its fantastic customer support and is considered one of the best workplaces in the world. You can also read up on their culture book to learn more about their ethos.
Now, it was my turn. I wanted to create a similar culture book, one which outlined our vision and ethos.
Here is the process I took in creating the core values of our organisation:
As a company leader, I went ahead and started to put together what became the first draft of our company culture. The first draft was lengthy and included a range of information from on how to treat customers to how to help others in the company.
I realised that rather than dictating my version of organisational core values and asking everybody in the team to opt-in, that having everyone write their version of the own core values was better. It was inspiring as I went through each submission as I realised we had a lot of shared values. Now it was time to organise them.
Once we had everything arranged, we then voted and grouped the top 10 values. On finalising the top 10 values, we solidified them as our core values and shared them across the team. The core values are now part of our employee onboarding and have become the first page on our internal company wiki.
Every year we revisit our core values and revise it accordingly. Now, to answer the topic of today’s discussion.
Why are core values important to an organisation?
Core values not only define the blueprint of how people should work and act not just in the workplace but also bring those values into their day to day lives If you are a company leader or running an early start-up, the following list will help to summarise on why you need core values in your company:
Organisational Core values give purpose and describe the ‘Why’ of the business. It’s like a moral compass which aligns everyone to a joint mission.
Core values set a benchmark; a legacy which stands out the test of time. If job candidates are not happy with your core values chances are they are not a good fit for the company.
Core values set a standard and help the business align, especially in difficult and challenging times.
If you want to receive a copy of our organisational core values, please send me an email on email@example.com, and I will be happy to share it with you.
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