Creating a set of core values for your company can help your small business team more effectively work toward achieving company goals, establish high operational standards for personnel and guide you in making more optimal hiring choices. Zappos, the successful clothing and shoe retailer, is a good example of a company with strong core business values that are prominently displayed on signs throughout the company’s offices as a constant reminder for employees. Consider the following guidelines when developing the core values for your own business.
Find the Core Values of Your Team
A first step in setting core values for your company is for you and your team members to take the time to consider and write down their core personal values. When Zappos was developing its core values, it sent out emails asking employees to submit their personal list of four or five core values. As the founder of the business, think about what originally led you to create your company. For example, you may have created a business to provide consumers with a popular product at a more affordable price, so one of your core values may be making products more affordable for a wider range of people.
Once you’ve collected a set of values from your team, work on narrowing the list and combining values. For example, you can combine “making quality products” and “making affordable products” into “making quality products at an affordable price.”
After creating a distilled list of proposed values, email that list out to your employees and ask for their feedback on which values they deem most important.
Figure Out How to Apply the Values to Your Business
Once you have a consolidated list of potential core values, translate those values into guidelines for your company. For example, if honesty is one of the core values that your team has identified, that can be translated into an operational guideline as “maintain clear, honest and open communication, both among employees and with customers.” Write out a practical definition of what each identified core value means as it relates to your company and how it operates.
Figure out how to integrate your identified core business values into standard operating procedure and processes at your company. Assign one or two people to examine each department in your company – such as human resources, manufacturing, customer service and accounting – so they can come up with proposals for incorporating your core values into the basic operational framework for each department.
Communicate the Company’s Core Values to Employees
Communicate the core values you settle on to your employees; later hires will not be automatically familiar with your core values. This can be accomplished through things such as displaying posters with core values written on them, or alternating mentions of core values as a header or footer note attached to all emails sent to employees.