10 Steps For Developing Your Company’s Core Values

We wanted to share the outline with Delivering Happiness readers to give you a framework for thinking about developing core values for your own organizations.

Step #1

DECIDE IF YOU’RE COMMITTED to running a values-based company.
  • This requires more patience with revenues and profits in order to lay the foundation.
  • Make the decision sooner rather than later.

Step #2

FIGURE OUT YOUR PERSONAL VALUES.
  • It’s surprisingly harder than you think.
  • Be honest with yourself.
Try using Tribal Leadership author Dave Logan’s “Mountains and Valleys” Core Values exercise to help you define your personal core values by reviewing significant milestones in your life and/or life-changing events.

Step #3

GET KEY PEOPLE’S PERSONAL VALUES.
  • Partners, managers, and/or influencers.
Zappos Email sent out in 2005Companies have core values, and we’re working on defining them explicitly for Zappos so everyone is on the same page… But the purpose of this email is to ask what everyone’s personal values are… please email me 4 or 5 values that you live by (or want to live by) that define who you are or who you want to be… (do not cc everyone)… each value should be one word or at most a short phrase (but ideally one word)… please email me the values that are significant and meaningful to you personally, not necessarily having anything to do with the company’s values…

Step #4

COMBINE PEOPLE’S VALUES.
  • Don’t do this by committee – just 1 or 2 people.

Step #5

ASK MANAGERS TO TEST VALUES AGAINST EMPLOYEES & EX-EMPLOYEES.
Zappos Email sent in 2006We’ve been working on a “Zappos Core Values” document, and the first draft of it is below. Please take the time to read it over and email me (do not cc everyone) any suggestions, additions, subtractions, or other feedback.In particular, think about any employees that you think represent the Zappos culture well, and whether what you like about those employees is covered by the 10 core values proposed below. Conversely, think about any employees that you think do not represent Zappos well, and whether the reason behind it is due to them not representing one or more of the core values below.This is a very important document, as we will give the final version to all employees. It will be more or less permanent for all the future years of Zappos, so your input is very important. Please make sure you set aside the time to read and think about it.

Step #6

TEST YOUR COMMITMENT.
  • Are you willing to hire/fire people based on whether they fit your core values, even if an employee adds a lot of value in the short-term?

Step #7

SEND TO ENTIRE COMPANY, AND ASK FOR FEEDBACK.

Step #8

COMBINE PEOPLE’S VALUES (again)
  • Don’t do this by committee – just 1 or 2 people.
  • You can’t make everyone happy.

Step #9

ROLL OUT CORE VALUES TO ENTIRE COMPANY.

Step #10

INTEGRATE CORE VALUES INTO EVERYTHING YOU DO.
  • Especially hiring, firing, and performance reviews.
See how other companies are creating cultures of happiness in The Movement: Get Inspired.
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