Last week we shared our thoughts about how Core Values make difficult decisions easier. We had a few questions as a result of that viewpoint, including “how do I develop our Core Values?” and “What makes something a Core Value?”

First, to be clear we are not experts on Core Values, but we spent a lot of time developing the values that accurately define who we are and what we commit to. In fact, since these core values are the foundation of who we are, we place them on the main page of our website. Over the years, R2R COO Tom Noffsinger has invested a lot of time in training and workshops for entrepreneurs, where this thought process is key to the success of many organizations. So here are a few tips to know if it’s time to draft or update your Core Values.

We find it helpful to think of Core Values as the guardrails for your business – they keep you and your team aligned with the overall mission and vision of the company (why it exists) and they set the tone for how and why you do things and the overall culture of your organization. Ideally there are only a handful of Core Values, and they can be explain with examples to customers, employees, investors and stakeholders.

What makes a value core?

Willing to lose money. One of the truest tests of a Core Value is if the business is willing to lose money and walk away from a customer, client, vendor relationship or project rather than compromising on a Core Value. This could be related to how a customer or client treats your employees if one of your values involves respect or honesty.

Hire and fire. The first questions in an R2R interview with a perspective employee or freelancer involve our Core Values, and the person’s willingness to embrace and model the associated behaviors. We make it clear our values are key to how we operate and the R2R “secret sauce”, and they are important enough that no amount of performance can offset behavior that goes against them.

Defined by customers. We believe existing customers should immediately recognize your Core Values as being key to who your company is. When we first developed our Core Values, we interviewed clients, strategic partners and venders to ask them “what makes us unique?” and “what do you like most about working with R2R?” There was a lot of consistency in the responses and that feedback became the foundation of ur values.

Your Core Values will be unique to your organization. If the organization is small, the values are likely those already exhibited by the founder/owner and leadership. Larger companies may need to do more work to tease out the nuances. If you already have Core Values, congratulations! We’d love to hear about them, and an example of how they are brought to life in your business – please share them with us!