Company Values — Why You Need Them and How to Define Them
What are company values and why are they important?
Along with a mission and vision statement, every company needs a defined set of values. These values are defined by you and others in your company and act as the foundation of who you are and how you operate. Your values should be your guide in the midst of big changes or challenges, helping you stay true to your authentic self and who you want to become.
How to Define Your Company Values
Defining your company values is an important step in building your company or organization. It’s likely not going to be accomplished in an hour long meeting in a conference room. In fact, it will require a lot of thought, dedication, and introspection.
So, who do you involve in the process?
Every company is different, and this will likely depend on the size and closeness of your team. Are you a four-person team, a growing team of 100, or somewhere in the middle?
Smaller teams have the luxury of including everyone in the process, if they so choose, while larger groups should assemble a smaller team within the organization. This team should likely consist of leaders and department heads, especially any visionaries who have proven valuable in processes like these. These people should also be willing and able to represent the rest of the team who isn’t involved in the process.
How do you define your company values?
We recommend that you make a day (or two) out of this process! It’s often good to get out of the office and into a new, neutral environment. Consider taking your team to a fun location, whether it’s for a stay overnight at a nice resort or a different, more exciting workspace, like a coworking space, a restaurant or coffee shop with a private room.
This will hopefully inspire new ideas and eliminate the distractions of the office. If you’re able to, mute your notifications and pause all other tasks.
Now that you’ve got the perfect space for getting your creative juices flowing, start brainstorming together.
It will help to start by asking a set of questions and jotting answers down on a large sheet of paper or whiteboard. Some questions might include:
- What sets us apart as a company?
- What do we want to be known for?
- What are some words we’ve been described as?
- Who do we want to be in 5-10 years?
- What do we do that we are proud of?
- How do we act in times of challenge?
- What do we love about our jobs?
Remember, at this point in the process, there is no wrong answer! Just write down anything and everything that’s said.
From there, take time to refine your brainstorming session. Here are some steps for narrowing down your list:
- Get rid of similar words and phrases — for instance, if you’ve jotted down “commitment” and “dedication,” pull up the definitions for each word and determine which one better describes what you are trying to say.
- Throw the values into different categories, depending on what you came up with. You may find you have several about customer support, some about company culture, and others about innovation and change. Write some overall categories on a separate area of the whiteboard or paper and place each word or phrase into a category.
- Rank your brainstorming results. Within each category, rank your items based on how true they feel to who you are and who you want to be — whichever items end up at the top of your list are likely contenders for your final list of company values.
Once you have your list, take time to make sure they are true to you.
Ask yourself the following questions…
- Are we willing to let these values direct our company?
- Would we be able to make important HR decisions based on these values?
- Are these values applicable to every area of our company?
And finally, ask yourself if these values will challenge you to make the right decisions in times of challenges or change.
Your values shouldn’t just affirm your current behaviors and approaches, but should push you to be better, smarter, and more impactful in the future.
Defining your company’s values is a big deal and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but follow these tips and you’ll be headed forward on the highway to success!