How to Use Core Values to Align Your Company, Team, and Service.

June 17, 2024

Core values establish a foundation for your company’s success.

Core values drive your company’s success, but are they effectively communicated to your team? Imagine being asked what the perfect employee at your company looks like—can you answer without hesitation? 

You're already on the right track if you've dedicated time to defining your company's core values, mission, and vision. But if you haven’t you’re not alone. Establishing your core values isn't just a corporate checkbox; it’s the simplest and most powerful way to shape your company culture and identity. It all begins with understanding what truly matters to your people and your organization. 

In today's competitive landscape, more and more businesses are realizing that aligning their workforce with their core values is not just beneficial, but essential for long-term success. Let’s explore how you can ensure your team embodies the very principles that set your company apart.

In this article, we look at what core values are, how they are established, and how you can use core company values to organize your service philosophy, hiring methods, and company culture, and even direct your business decisions. We will also explore ways Syndeo has done this within our own organization and for our clients, and how we can help you do it, too. 

What Are Core Values? 

Core values are the set of foundational beliefs that guide and structure a person or organization’s response to various situations. They are deep-ingrained principles that shape decision-making, reflect identity, establish a company’s culture, and solidify long-term vision and overall success. Fostering a sense of belonging among people who share them, core beliefs serve as motivation for a shared purpose. They provide essential guidance for navigating challenges and difficult circumstances. 

Additionally, they serve as the building blocks for developing and crafting your company’s mission and vision, the what you do and why you do it. Together, core values, mission, and vision statements help others to know if you’ve accomplished the purpose for which you set out. 

The Classic “Which Came First?” 

Do core values emerge from the behaviors and lifestyles of your employees, or do you set a vision that creates a work culture that attracts individuals aligned with those values? The answer often varies by company, but in our experience with clients and within our organization, it's typically a combination of both.

Establishing Core Values

In many companies, the core values originate from the vision and values of the founder. As the company establishes itself and communicates its vision and mission, more people align with its values, leading to growth.

When our founder, Bill Maness, started in the HR service industry in 1988, like most founders, he cast a vision of a down-to-earth, service-oriented company that helped businesses solve problems. He highly valued integrity, passion, relationships built on trust, and giving back to the community. He recruited individuals who embodied these core values in their daily lives, understanding that employees carry their values into the workplace. This intentional approach gradually reinforced Syndeo's culture, aligning perfectly with his vision and driving the mission forward.

But, the founder’s values are not the only important values when it comes to organizational core values. 

Finding Common Values — Aligning Company and Employee Values

Companies reevaluating their core beliefs should also look to their employees to determine which values they embody and live. Separating personal and professional lives is nearly impossible when it comes to values, as they are deeply ingrained in the psyche and influence behavior both at home and at work. Making an honest and accurate evaluation of the values your people live out can help you determine the company’s core values. 

As Bill transitioned away from the daily operations of Syndeo and handed the business over to his executive team, we took the opportunity to thoughtfully reassess the values he established for Syndeo, ensuring they aligned with the vision we intended to carry forward. We were replacing one man’s vision and values with a team of people, all of whom had visions and values of their own. We needed to figure out how we could come together to identify the most important common values we shared for our team so we could cast a vision for Syndeo’s future. Our foundation remained unchanged, but the values were adjusted slightly to better reflect how our Syndeo team was already functioning and to emphasize the principles we already upheld. We leveraged the values our team embodied to refine our vision and guide the company’s continued growth.

Understanding the values of the people within your organization allows businesses to craft a mission and purpose that resonates with your employees. That resonance will inspire and motivate them to greater commitment and productivity. Many people in today’s workforce are seeking work that aligns with their values and gives them a sense of purpose. 

Once you’ve identified the most important values for your company and your people, the next step is to communicate them. 

Communicating Core Values Company-Wide

One effective way to communicate your values which we have used with several clients is to develop a relatable profile of what a ‘perfect’ employee looks like. No one is perfect, but by outlining the traits and characteristics of our core values in a personal way, we give employees a standard to compare to and strive towards. This standard can be used across multiple platforms within the organization, from recruiting to onboarding to training materials. It can also help your employees envision themselves living out the foundational principles and integrating them into their daily work, fostering a cohesive and values-driven company culture.

Visualizing your core values is another great step to help employees internalize them. Posters, wall art, and other visual reminders keep your values front of mind for people seeing and reading them every day. 

Referencing them in conversation and recognizing them among your employees is another way to strengthen company culture and share values. 

Using Core Values to Create Job Descriptions

As your team increasingly incorporates the core values into their everyday language, using them in interactions will become second nature. Including these foundational beliefs in your job descriptions and job postings will attract applicants who align with your company culture, while also setting clear expectations from the start. From the first touchpoint, candidates will be able to determine if your company will be a good fit for them if they know your guiding principles. 

Integrating your core values into your onboarding experience, employee handbook, and training materials are more ways that you can reinforce the values that drive your company’s success. If you’re unsure how to begin, Syndeo can help you get started.

Using Values in Performance Incentives

Beyond adding them to your culture and language, incentivizing your employees based on the values of your organization is another way to strengthen your company culture and motivate your employees. 

We have assisted numerous clients in aligning their performance incentives with their core values, providing an effective means of motivating employees. By integrating your foundational principles into performance reviews, coaching sessions, and recognition programs, you can create a cohesive and value-driven work environment. Performance reviews can be structured to evaluate how well employees embody these values in their daily tasks. Coaching can be tailored to reinforce the importance of your core principles and guide employees in demonstrating them consistently. Recognition programs that reward employees for exemplifying core values motivate and promote a culture where these values are celebrated and upheld. 

A Syndeo Client Success Story

One Syndeo client reached out to us with an urgent request for assistance. The company was expanding rapidly and preparing to break ground on a second facility. The owner called after realizing their company culture was unprepared for the expansion and didn't know where to start. His new employees needed training and coaching, and performance metrics had to be established for the new operations. Our team came on the scene to determine the priorities to get them ready for the expansion in a limited timeframe.

Essentially, we helped this client to define what an ideal employee would look like and to communicate his expectations. The main issue? While the owner knew and embodied the core values, he had never documented or shared them with his team. To build a strong company culture, it's crucial to base coaching conversations, performance management, annual reviews, client service philosophies, and criteria for great clients and customers on your foundational beliefs.

People can change. Organizations can, too. 

Remember, while determining your core values can be challenging because there are so many good options, selecting the top ones helps you stay focused and purposeful. It doesn’t mean they are the only values you have. Choosing your key values simply means you are committed to honing these particular ones throughout your entire organization. If narrowing down the choices is difficult because you want them to be perfect, rest assured: they don’t have to be. Just as people grow and change, so do organizations. What worked for your company when it was small may not be as effective once you’ve grown.

If you're ready to take the next step to align your company and employees around your core values, Syndeo is here to help. Our team of experts can assist you in defining, communicating, and integrating your core principles to create a cohesive and value-driven workplace. Don’t leave your company culture to chance—reach out to Syndeo today and discover how we can support your journey toward a more aligned and successful organization. Contact us now to get started!

What strategies do you use to keep your core values front of mind for your team every day? Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe to our newsletter for more thought-provoking HR content from Syndeo. To learn more about how outsourced HR services can get you back to business, contact Syndeo today!

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