If you’re looking to define your organization’s core values or you wish to update and refine them, a variety of brainstorming activities are available. Here is a simple 5-step activity that we’ve run through internally here at Cangaroo. It allowed us to determine our organization’s core values while making sure to involve all members of our staff.
STEP 1: Polling your employees
Ideally, you’ll want to poll your entire team to allow their input regarding your organization’s core values. If you are a larger organization, you may ask your managers to collect and summarize the results for each of their respective teams. You will want to ask your employees 2 simple questions:
- Choose the 5 words that best describe your organization at the current date
- Choose 2 values that your organization should be working to improve
The words chosen by your employees don’t necessarily need to be values per se, they can express concepts that will inspire you to define your organization’s values. You may also add additional questions concerning both your mission and vision should you wish to re-work these concepts as well.
When it comes to actually polling your employees, the easiest way to accomplish this is to use platforms such as Typeform, Amélio or Officevibe, all of which allow you to compile the poll results on the cloud and export the data in question to Excel. If your employees aren’t necessarily technologically-inclined, you may ask their managers to schedule a moment to have them fill out the same poll in paper form.
STEP 2: Group all similar values together
Once you have the poll results on hand, group all similar values together. Values such as “creativity”, “innovation” and “think different” can all be grouped together in the same category. You will eventually discover that some groups are more populated than others. Take note of the concepts that are brought up most frequently.
Here at Cangaroo, our poll ended up giving us 12 different groups: collaboration, audacity, quality of life, freedom, communication, simplicity, efficiency, trust, fun, passion, respect and goodwill.
STEP 3: Present the different value groups to upper management
Schedule a meeting with upper management and present them with the most common value groups in order to define your organization’s core values. Ask them to choose 3 to 5 groups that, in their opinion, best represent their desired company culture. In our organization, 3 groups stood out in the poll results and the 4th was chosen as it represented the opinion of upper management and employees regarding our vision of the company’s future.
STEP 4: Finding the right words
During your meeting with upper management, include a member of your marketing or communication team. This person will help you define your organization’s values with the right words to represent upper management’s vision.
Choose words that are inspiring, simple and proudly represent your organization.
Employees must be able to carry these with them in their everyday tasks and you must keep them in mind for when making any future decisions. Continuing with our own organization as an example, here are the 4 core values we have chosen:
STEP 5: Communicate your chosen values to employees first and foremost
Make sure to advise your employees of your chosen core values before mentioning them to the outside world. They must permeate the day-to-day operations of your entire team and they must be well aware of them before anyone else.
To simplify the comprehension and encourage adoption of these core values, find an inspiring catchphrase that represents each of them. Many recommend choosing different values for internal employees versus customers. Personally, I believe that both should be identical. However, feel free to change up your catchphrase depending on your intended audience.
At Cangaroo, one of our organization’s core values is flexibility. The meaning of this value is quite different depending on whether you are speaking to customers, employees or potential candidates:
- Customers: Our HR platforms and services are tailored to your organization’s reality.
- Employees/candidates: We are fully in control of managing our day-to-day work. We all have our word to say regarding the organization’s evolution.
Plan out the way your organizational values will be communicated to your employees: face-to-face meetings, conference calls, video calls, etc. Afterwards decide where you’ll be posting these chosen values externally. Here is a short list of places where you can show off your new values:
- Your office walls
- Social media
- Your corporate website
- Your employee portal/intranet
- Job postings
- Promotional material
- Your official documents and stationary
In closing, keep your true objective in mind. If one of your core values is a buzzword such as “WOW”, you may end up finding it difficult to apply in your daily operations. The point of defining your organization’s core values is to rally your employees towards a common goal, to help choose the right objectives, to make wiser strategic decisions, facilitate new employee integration and reinforce your team’s sense of belonging.
Values are much more than words, they must be imbued into each employee’s mind every day they show up for work.