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How to Create Core Values in Five Steps

October 23, 2018

There is something beautiful about well-crafted company core values. This is not hyperbole. When the leaders connect and properly document what makes their organization unique, remarkable things happen. But you’re probably thinking, “how does that happen?”


First, your core values already exist.

That’s right, your core values already exist within your organization and they’re at play right now. Understanding this fundamental concept is the crucial first step in documenting (not creating) this list for your company. Yep- the title of this blog post is a lie! (and written to get people to find and read it.)

Your core values should describe the norms and expectations of your company’s culture as it exists today…not as you wish it were.

Second, understand what core values are not.

Your company’s core values should not be aspirational. These values should describe the norms and expectations of your company’s culture as it exists today…not as you wish it were.

They are also not a list of virtues. Honesty is not a core value, it’s a basic expectation you should have for someone you hire, much like “washes hair regularly” and “wears acceptable business attire.”

Integrity and Communication and Respect – let’s throw those out too. Are you going to put up with someone who has no integrity, communicates poorly, and doesn’t respect others?

Third, choose the right team for the process.

There’s an old joke that a camel is a horse created by a committee. If you have too many people – or the wrong people – participating in the documentation process, it won’t go well.

Make sure your documentation team is only comprised of your best and brightest. After all, that’s what you want to attract, and well-documented core values are attractive to the right employees.

Fourth, leave jargon out of it.

Your company core values should be comprehensible to a six-year-old child. If the language you use isn’t clear and simple, you’re going to have trouble communicating these values to those who are outside the walls of your company.

Also, leave your industry out of it. Great core values describe a company’s culture without reference to your industry. Southwest Airlines is a model of culture and their core values are tremendously effective and contain not one mention of being an airline.

Fifth, use an experienced facilitator.

You need someone who can challenge and guide your team to get the best version. Cutting corners and not utilizing the right paid consultant can leave you with weak, inaccurate, or even worse – destructive – results.

Company core values that are properly documented and implemented can propel an organization to new heights. They can become the language of your culture; the tool by which expectations are communicated and understood.

Does your organization have documented and implemented core values? No? Give Element 47 a call; we can help!


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