To us, core values are more than just corporate hype or writing on a wall. We have found over the years that people who intuitively live and understand these values thrive in our organization.
"I don't like lip service, and for years I thought that corporate values were something that companies stuck on the wall to look official. It seemed to me that these buzz words were simply a way for some figurehead to say, 'This is what we want you to do' or 'This is who we want you to be.' Little did I know that I was missing a key point, perhaps to the detriment of our organization.
I was introduced to a book called Traction which said,
'These core values define your culture and who you truly are as people. When they are clear, you’ll find they attract like-minded people to your organization. You will also find that when they are applied in your organization, they will weed out the people that don’t fit. Once they’re defined, you must hire, fire, review, reward, and recognize people based on these core values. This is how to build a thriving culture around them.' (Wickman, Gino. Traction p. 35)
This was intriguing to me because I think culture is so important. I learned that values are not something to be dictated- they are already there. Our long-term and thriving employees encompass a set of values already. We just had to uncover and articulate them. Over a series of long and exhausting meetings, I met with a few long-term employees, and we did a variety of thought experiments to determine what made us who we are. We asked ourselves questions like: What are traits of our longest standing employees? What are traits of people we admire in our lives? It took a long time, but we eventually came up with the 6 values that we believe make us who we are.
Over the years, about 1/3 of the people we hired did not make it for various reasons. Something was just not clicking, whether it was their work performance or their attitude. Like a car with a flashing check engine light, it was hard to know exactly what the problem was, but it was clear that something was wrong. It is always painful to part ways with employees and it's something we want to prevent for many reasons. When we uncovered our values, I realized that almost every parting of ways with past employees had to do with the fact that they did not fit our values.
An employee has a right to know before they are hired what makes us who we are. Culture is part of our secret sauce, and this helps define the kind of people we want to hire to keep our culture healthy and strong.
I’m excited about our core values. I believe that they sum up the key traits that make up our culture, rather than something that is being forced upon people. They are what we are all living and breathing every day, and that makes me excited to see what we can accomplish together.”
> Internal Memo from CEO when core values were first published.