Aug 28, 2018

Three Essential Questions to Discover Your Core Values

Core values are in many ways the most personal component of core messaging. While company vision and mission statements are grounded in the work you do, values spring from your ideals. What kind of business do you want to run? What sorts of standards do you hold yourself to? What traits do you look for in employees and collaborators?

When done right, core values should act as a filter for hiring, a yardstick for performance and a roadmap for company culture. They also create an immediate benchmark against which everything you do can be measured, and that’s what makes them so powerful — and for some businesses, a little scary. Fortunately, we have some essential questions you can ask yourself and your team to get a better grasp on what drives you.

What do we value as a company?

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to start with the basics. Besides, you might be surprised at the variety of answers you get, especially if your business has different departments or offices. That’s why it’s essential to get a broad range of input when first trying to define your values. You may have some idea of what values the company was founded on, but are those values coming through? The only way to know is to ask.

What kinds of people do we want to work with?

Everyone wants to hire the best people for the job, but beyond matching the job description, “best” is often a matter of fit. If your delivery business needs to run like clockwork, maybe you’re looking for people who are punctual or detail-oriented. If your credit union places a premium on service, you might look for folks you’d describe as generous or sociable. In the end, these words will help flesh out the sorts of values that your business needs to attract and retain the best and brightest.

What do we believe?

Belief statements are powerful things. They’re like staking a big flag on top of an idea — you’re taking ownership of it for all the world to see. When thinking about your values, it can be helpful to turn this question into a fill-in-the-blank. “As a company, we believe that ______.” These kinds of statements are a great way to dig deep and gain insight into the kinds of values that may not fit into one or two word answers.

After asking yourself and your employees these questions, you’ll probably have a mountain of words and ideas to work with. Your next step is to group these into categories. Did certain ideas come up more than once? Are there multiple synonyms of a particular word? These are signs that you’re getting close to the “core” in core values. Keep grouping similar words and ideas, and soon you’ll have a handful of concepts that truly represent what you value as a business.

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