How to Build Company Culture

company culture core values culture foundation lead by example leadership leadership culture leadership values shared values May 14, 2023

Core values matter in everything we do. Core values are the foundation of who you are - as an individual and as an organization.

A value is something you care enough about to lead from that place. 

Values influence and guide our behavior. 

Because company culture matters in everything we do and everything we offer, consider this by Gino Wickman in the book Traction,

How do you build company culture?  It’s about perpetuating company values in everything you do.

In a recent hotjar article, I (Cindy) found some great examples of core values and the definition of values. 

Core values are a set of guiding principles and beliefs that help a team function together and work toward a common goal.  These values should be what your company wants to see in itself and its employees and what should be acted out everyday by each individual in the organization. 

Values don’t have to be complicated.  Some examples are … honesty, trust, accountability, respect, growth, excellence.

Having a core set of organizational values should make it easier for the company and the leaders to make decisions, foster teamwork, increase employee collaboration, increase effective communication to clients, customers, and one another - all with the right attitude. 

While we lead with our vision statement, it’s the company’s core values that support the vision.  If the values are not demonstrated by everyone in the team, the vision falters.

It’s kind of like having water in your gas tank.  Your engine sputters, the vehicle jerks and lurches, you start and stop without any real progress, and worse, you’re getting further and further behind in both productivity and profitability.  Are you frustrated?  Of course! Until the water is out of your gasoline, you’re not going to be highly productive and those in the vehicle will continue to fall behind, have increasing frustration, and not be able to perform as a high functioning team, until they are again demonstrating the company’s core values which fuel their actions moving everyone towards the vision.  

Think about some of the values your family upheld as you were growing up and how they are still a part of you today.  And how about the times you made decisions based on what your family expected you to do in representing them?  The values they expected you to uphold? 

I remember my Dad saying a thousand times before we would go into another person's home for dinner, or a church event, a school meeting, a business meeting… You kids look at me.  You had better be on your best behavior.  You are representing this family! 

While we were far from perfect, I believe that kept us from doing at least some of the dumb stuff we would have done otherwise by stopping to think about what our family stood for - our family values- honesty, integrity, do what you say you will do, manners…all the things kids need to be mindful of.

In another scenario, what if that is missing.  A family without values has a completely different trajectory and a turbulent path forward as they face a rocky road of consequences and outcomes.  It’s no different in organizations.

Think about Enron, Exxon Valdez, and in the news today…

You don’t have to look far to see the consequences when values slip in an organization and the devastating impact that has on people and the organization as a whole.

An organization's values should be the foundation of why the company exists, how behavioral norms are defined, and how decisions are made in order to achieve goals and fulfill the vision. They must be authentic and relatively specific, so they actually resonate with the team.

In a recent Forbes article they summed it up pretty well on not only why core values matter but also touched on the importance of sharing core values with the team… which I’ll share soon!