Finding Your Core Values
In our previous post on Core Values, we outlined Permission to Play Values, those values that must be present in someone before you even let them in a organisation. There are some obvious ones here, Honesty and Integrity for example but there may be other ones that your organisation decide to add that are specific to your business or industry and that's fine. Remember however that these values are about stopping the wrong people joining your organisation. Aspirational Values are on the other hand values you really want to see within your organisation but aren't there yet and it's Ok to talk about these with your teams and explain why you believe you should have them. Even better, build a plan to instil those values into your organisation, but only claim them when they truly exist!
Existing Core Values
The interesting thing about Core Values is that they already exist within your organisation, even if they are a value you don't actually want or haven't encouraged, the fact that you haven't discouraged it means you've accepted it and believe me, those undesirable core values are there and having an impact on your organisation.
Uncovering Core Values
I like the method that Patrick Lencioni explains in his book The Advantage (go buy this book!) on how to uncover the values, it's simple and easy to do which fits well with my style of working and having run a couple of these now I can tell you that it's one of the best methods I've ever used, so here's what he suggests you do:
- Set up a session with your 3 or 4 key exec team, it's usually good to ensure Hr is in there
- Identify the 3-6 people in your organisation that are what you'd term a star, they stand out from the crowd and have what you consider 'the right stuff', in fact, if you could clone them you'd do it in a heartbeat.
- Now really dig into them and try to identify what they qualities of these people are that you like so much. I get people to do this on Post-it notes so we can shuffle and group as it gets clearer to us. You'll start with a larger list of attributes and values and quickly group and combine them until you distil it down to a vital few things. So now you have the list of stuff you believe benefits the organisation, these are potential core values.
- Identify the 3-6 people in your organisation that are essentially the opposite of your stars, they stand out from the crowd because they don't get it done or they drive people crazy, they feel like a bad fit, in fact, if they stopped turning up tomorrow that would be a big help to the business. Review these people in the same way as you did with your stars, obviously identifying the things you don't like?
- Think about the things you have identified that you don't like, now what is the direct opposite of that trait or value that you identified as something you don't want? Add those to your list of possible core values.
- The next bit is to turn the lens onto the leaders themselves, that's why you need the key exec team members in the room, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and be 100% brutally honest, do you have the values from the possible core value pool?
Once you have your values candidate list again try to distil it down to a vital few but using words or phrases to describe what the value in a way that means something to you and your organisation, ensure that you are not creating a marketing spiel here. Remember it should mean something inside your organisation, perhaps with a story or example behind it but doesn't have to mean anything outside the organisation.
How Many Core Values Are Too Many?
Well, the truth is you can have as many as you like to build a real picture of your companies values, however, a word of caution here. A never-ending exhaustive list of values makes a mockery of the term core, it also makes it almost impossible for anyone to live up to and quickly allows the whole thing to fall into disrepute. Somewhere between 3 & 6 would be our guide.
Once you have your Core Values figured out, it's time to communicate them, and we will talk about that next.
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If you want to understand more about developing Core Values or reviewing your current values and focus then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better
You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting
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