In addition to creating and sharing a company’s vision and mission, many businesses include a listing of their core business values on their website. But simply listing them doesn’t mean they are part of the corporate culture. It also doesn’t mean they are expressed in the behaviors of employees as they interact with colleagues, customers, prospects, vendors and others. In an ideal world, core business values represent the essence, soul or backbone of a company. They are evident in the way decisions are made and the way business is conducted. Additionally, these values are evident in the way people inside and outside the organization perceive the company.
Michael Josephson, author of “Character Counts,” identified six key values that he believes represent the foundation of personal relationships. They are:
- Civic responsibility
These values, currently taught in schools across the country, are transferable to the business world as well.
Examples of Core Business Values
Here’s a more in-depth look:
1. Trustworthiness: In business, this translates to honesty, dependability and reliability. In other words, do the company and its representatives honor their spoken commitments and stay true to mission and vision with consistency?
2. Respect: Respect refers to the way all stakeholders are treated. Does the company conduct business in a way that demonstrates high esteem, admiration and regard for others?
3. Responsibility: While closely tied to trustworthiness, responsibility is the act of being accountable for something within one’s power, control and management. Do company employees know what’s expected of them and perform according to those expectations? Do they deliver quality work on time?
4. Fairness: With diversity representing a key corporate initiative in many organizations, fairness is more important than ever. In addition to diversity, fairness in the workplace is achieved through support, recognition, organizational flexibility, transparency and an appeals process should someone wish to have their grievances heard by management.
5. Caring: Empathy is important in our personal and business lives. Showing consideration and concern for others lets others know we care. You see this behavior when colleagues and management seek out the opinions of others and listen to their input. Caring is manifested in a service-orientated mindset. This mindset is where the goal is to help others solve problems, achieve their goals and get the recognition they deserve.
6. Civic responsibility: Many companies express an interest or goal in improving the quality of life for the communities in which they operate. Civic-minded organizations foster and encourage volunteerism as well as charitable donations. On a broader level, civic responsibility means developing products and services that improve quality of life. With a continual focus on innovation, fun, collaboration and generosity, companies contribute to the greater good of society.
Core business values are the deeply ingrained principles guiding a company’s actions. They should be succinct and serve as cultural cornerstones. They are also the essence of the organization’s corporate distinction. Identify these core business values and integrate them into every employee-facing process—hiring, performance evaluation, training, rewards and even dismissal. In addition, consider the core business values when developing outward-facing initiatives including sales, marketing and customer relationships. When corporate values are constantly reinforced, they move beyond platitudes and provide the foundation from which organizations can flourish.