Are your core values at your core?

Words have power. One of the most crucial steps that any company will take is developing their story. Think about your organization. What is your Mission? Vision? Purpose and Core Values?

Every part of your story is significant. Your VISION tells you where you are going. Your MISSION is what you do. Your PURPOSE is why you do it. Finally, your CORE VALUES are how you do what you do.

Language that captures the quintessence of your organization gives others the opportunity to catch the heart of your business and run with it for years to come. Without a powerful way to articulate what the organization is and where it is headed, you will at best get a few people who truly understand the inner workings. But in the long-run will not be able to sustain the engagement necessary for a thriving entity.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when either developing or rebranding their story is crafting language that portrays a desired culture instead of their true culture. Enron is a classic example. In 2001, Enron filed for bankruptcy and many of its executives were imprisoned for covering up billions of dollars’ worth of debt. Their core values at the time were Communication, Respect, Integrity, and Excellence. Clearly, their values were not at their core.

You may not face legal ramifications after spouting core values that misrepresent the organization, but you could suffer from disengaged employees. Russell P. Reeder, CEO of OVH US, says, “This may seem counterintuitive, but you really can’t create culture. You can seed it, nurture it and help it grow, but you can’t create something just because you write it down.”

Developing positive language around your company culture isn’t enough. We encourage our clients to implement “Around Here” statements. Yes, more language, but they speak to specific behaviors for the day-to-day. For example, “Around here, we assume best intentions.” That means, when we receive an email that could be taken in two ways – we assume it’s the better one. Around Here statements set clear expectations of employee conduct and function as an accountability tool. Your story is important, but actions will always speak louder than words. Incorporate your story into the workplace and develop language that speaks to day-in and day-out behaviors, then hold yourself and your employees accountable to those statements. When you walk the walk, and don’t just talk the talk, you know your core values and every other part of your story will truly be at your core.


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