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Core Values- Helping or Hurting Your Business?

Knowledge Center / Blog

Core Values- Helping or Hurting Your Business?

By Mike Beringer, SHRM-CP, HR Business Partner - Apr 05, 2018

Whether articulated or not, your organization has a set of core values that you abide by, follow, and consult on a regular basis. Sometimes the values are practiced, but not preached. Sometimes these values are not in the forefront; sometimes they are posted on walls, included during a new employee’s onboarding activities, or even recited during company meetings.

What are Core Values? Core values are simply a guiding set of principles or beliefs that dictate your company’s behaviors and decisions. Some of these may be very powerful and at the forefront at all times, while others may lay dormant and only be accessed periodically – when weighing the “pros” and “cons” of taking action, for example. Intrinsically, you are comfortable with the outcome based on what your values tell you.

However, even though the values are understood, they may lead to different outcomes. Let’s use an example:

Tyler’s manager, Alisha, tells Tyler the company values the quality of the work being done, above all else. Tyler is an employee who agrees that quality comes first, and as a project deadline approaches, Tyler feels the project is not up to standards. Tyler misses the deadline to ensure the quality of work is excellent, and that it meets Alisha’s standards. Alisha is upset that Tyler took extra time and missed the deadline, even if the work product improved: the delayed project means now the department will miss one of its goals for the year. Alisha is viewing quality as meeting deadlines and accomplishing set goals, while Tyler is viewing quality as an individual work product value. We can see how this can be confusing.

People may “know” the company values, but interpret the application of those values differently. As managers and leaders, it’s important to not just outline what your organization’s values are, but why they are important and the behaviors that reflect living those values. Sometimes there is a “hierarchy of values” to consider, meaning one or more values outweigh the others. Or, you may want employees to equally balance how they view and use the values to govern their decision making. Be clear in your communication on how values are weighed and how they should be fulfilled. It’s also important to interact with staff so you fully understand how employees perceive those values and what they mean to them.

Corporate values can be a major driving force in making complex decisions, creating a performance management system, and developing a company culture. If you’re thinking of making core values part of your business strategy to enhance your company’s culture and employee performance, The Employer Group can help.

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