Congratulations! You’ve taken a step that so few companies seem to care about and yet is so important in successfully scaling up. You’ve taken the time to articulate your Core Values. Now that you’ve done the heavy lifting, you can sit back and watch the benefits rolling.Right?
Developing your Core Values is just the start. What comes next is both hard work and fun work. It can be the difference between crossing the chasm to success and having those Core Values merely be a list of words printed on a poster in your office. But first, you need to know if what you have are really your Core Values.
Core Values are not who you want to be as an organization. They are who you already are today. That’s worth repeating – they are who you already are today. Far too often I see companies promote Core Values that represent who they think they are or who they aspire to be, but then live quite differently from them. This is hypocrisy! Not only will it create cynics out of employees, it opens up a gulf of credibility between leadership, team members, and consumers.
A story of hypocrisy…
Is anyone interested in buying a Volkswagen? It wasn’t too long ago that I admired VW and was seriously considering purchasing one of their vehicles. Today? Not so much. Unfortunately, they’re paying the price of hypocrisy. A quick glance at their “Basic Principles” and it’s quick to see that something is wrong:
- Social responsibility
- A spirit of partnership
- “Pro Ehrenamt” volunteering initiative
When you blatantly violate two of four basic principles (maybe more?), you end of paying dearly.
As Chris Wright notes in his recent Forbes contribution:
What matters is the individual experience of the 11 million vehicle owners Volkswagen deceived.
And what does this say about the broader automotive industry? Is VW the only manufacturer guilty of manipulating results? Is this just the tip of the ice berg?
So how do you know that what you’ve got are Core Values? The best tests are time and adversity. In the absence of either, here are three simple, practical tests:
- Would you fire a team member who consistently or blatantly violated one of your Core Values?
- Would your company be willing to take a financial hit (i.e. lose money) in order to maintain the integrity of a Core Value?
- Are your Core Values alive among your team today? Can you identify the name of an employee that is living out each of your Core Values in an energetic and obvious way?
If you answer “no” to any of the above questions, then I’m afraid what you think is a Core Value isn’t in fact a Core Value. Remember, these are your unbreakable rules. Back to the drawing board.
If you can honestly answer “yes” to each, congratulations! Now the fun begins.