When business owners start their venture, their priorities usually fall in the areas of finance, product development, and marketing. They ask questions like “How do I get my target customers buying my products,” “In which parts of the business can I decrease costs to reach budget,” or “Is my competitive advantage strong enough to beat my competitors?” While all these areas are vital for managing operations, owners also shouldn’t forget to spend time identifying the company culture and core values. Being clear about these facets on Day 1 can give clear direction and avoid mistakes caused by mistaken identity.
A guide for everyone
Core values serve as the guiding principles a business believes in, no matter what happens. They influence the vision a company would like to achieve, whether it’s being the best home theater provider or occupying the largest market share for chocolates. Decisions on the kind of employees they hire to the projects they deem worth pursuing are also affected by the core values. In some cases, they are also reflected in how the brand should look and feel to its customers.
Take Netflix, for example. The streaming giant is known for being transparent about the company’s culture and the kind of employees they are looking for. Anyone can look at it on their careers page, and a presentation published in 2009 but is still available today. It communicates how Netflix operates and what is expected from the people working in the team. It’s better to know at the start if a company’s values and your personality is a good match, rather than learning about it out later.
Having core values can also help improve a company’s bottom line. According to the study made by Barret Values Centre, a strong connection can be found between financial performance and the alignment of culture with the employees’ values. It might be because employees don’t have to deal with changing directions and management decisions.
Simple and straightforward
It’s tempting to mix and match the core values of industry giants and call it your own. What made them successful can make your business an industry giant, too. They’re also catchy and iconic with phrases like “think different” of Apple or “people over process” of Netflix. However, being a copycat will not bode well since the copied core values don’t encapsulate your business’s unique story and experience. Thinking differently might not work if your target market is more conservative and prefers stability.
For core values to be effective, they should also be simple and easy to remember. It doesn’t matter how catchy or useful they are if no one can remember and recite them on the fly. Making use of simple words, acronyms, and powerful phrases can help make the message stick. Another helpful tactic is by placing reminders of the culture and core values in easy to spot places such as lobbies, meeting rooms, and the cafeteria. The more people can see it, the more they will take it into the heart.
Core values serve as a company’s guidepost in times of chaos and uncertainty. They remind the management and employees on the things that matter, especially when the road forward is not as clear cut.