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    1. If the only way to divine a company’s core values is to read them on their website, then their core values aren’t core values; they’re marketing hooey.
    2. When you say core values and their eyes roll, then you don’t have core values; you have delusions.
    3. When revenue at all costs is your mantra and integrity is a core value, then up is down, and black is white.
    4. If you have 10 core values, then you don’t have core values, you have a shopping list.
    5. If your core values change annually, then you don’t have core values, you have a core du jour.

Core values don’t have value if they are simply empty words.  To be a core value, a value must be at the company’s very core…its very essence.

You don’t have to work for Apple, or read their core value statement, to know “We believe that we’re on the face of the earth to make great products” is a priority.  Nowhere in Nordstrom’s corporate literature is there a statement that superior customer service is a core value, but if you’ve shopped at Nordstrom, you know that customer service is a core part of their values.

In these days, where companies no longer control their brand, core values are more important than ever. Social media has given the consumer a voice; today, product management trumps public relations.  If your product sucks, you can’t press release yourself out of the dung- you have to manage your product out of it, and your core values define your product, service, and customer experience.

Core values are your culture, marketing, and all that is you.

So what are your core values?  Ask yourself this: If I asked my customers what my core values are, what would I want them to say? What would they actually say?  If there’s a mismatch, then you have work to do.

Don’t let this issue just sit there, ignored.  Get to work, and figure it out.  Write down your values. Develop a list of no more than five and no less than three.  Then use those core values as a lens to evaluate all that you do.  Ask yourself if your employees embody your values.

When you review your team, add to the ability to get raise their adherence to your culture. If teamwork is a core value and John does great work but doesn’t pitch in to help the team… he doesn’t exceed or meet expectations. His raise shouldn’t be the same as Judy, who does good work and goes over and above her to ensure her teammates succeed. Maybe John will get with the program or self-select himself out of the company.

Hire with an eye toward your core values.  Review and reward your employee performance based on their embodiment of your core values.  Live and breathe your core values, and use that core to create an intentional culture that builds a sustainable healthy company that won’t rot from the core.

Leaders get the culture they tolerate. You can either design the culture, or it will sink to the lowest level.

As an executive coach, I work with leaders who want to define, redefine and build a strong corporate culture of performance. If you’d like to experience working with an executive coach, you can schedule a complimentary one-hour coaching session here. I can ask you some clarifying questions, and maybe I can help you solve a pressing business issue.