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Hiring, Firing, Core Values and Company Culture

Does your organization have core values? How well do you know and practice them?

Businesses typically have a set of core values that are listed and posted, perhaps on a website or in a marketing brochure, but not as part of the day-to-day operation of the organization. They are often just aspirational, which means they are nice platitudes that we hope we follow most of the time. Often core values are ignored, and sometimes even a source of cynicism. “Oh, we say that we embrace kindness, yeah, right!!

I am proposing an alternate model of core values use that will transform your company culture. First you must only declare values that truly define your culture. These values must be non-negotiable requirements that apply to every team member. They also must be the primary basis for hiring, firing, evaluation and celebration. These values define the organizational DNA and identity.

Gino Wickman, in his book Traction, offers a great process of identifying and implementing core values. Gino provides a tool called the people analyzer that managers regularly use to evaluate team member’s attitude and performance. One feature of this simple tool is to discuss the team member’s practice of the core values. Both the manager and the team member discuss if they display each value (+) MOST of the time, (+/-) SOME of the time or (-) NOT OFTEN. The organization sets a minimum standard of behavior. For example, If there are 5 core values, the team member can have no (-) and only two (+/-). If the team member falls below this standard, there is an immediate requirement to remedy that issue. If the team member cannot quickly meet the minimum standard, they are dismissed.

This rigor creates a culture of people who are truly on the same page. It also provides a clear message that if someone does not fully embrace and practice the core values, they will not remain on the team.

Finally, everyone makes it a priority to catch each other demonstrating and celebrating these values. One company I coach gathers for a few minutes every week to share stories of how the team has displayed the core values. it is powerful and transformational.

It is possible to have a strong team culture. Shared core values are the basis. It is one of my favorite areas to coach because it drives excellence and company performance.


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