Core values are subject to a value framework, which we see as a universe or network of interconnected meanings. Their aspects can change with time.
Researchers have studied values for more than three decades, beginning with the work of Milton Rokeach (1973). Rokeach categorized values in two groups: terminal and instrumental. The former group includes happiness, safety, peace, and other desirable outcomes.
Instrumental values exist at the previous stage and serve as instruments to achieve terminal values, hence the name. Love, courage, and honesty are examples of these.
Core values are a defined system of beliefs that helps people tell the difference between right from wrong. According to Montrose & Sweeney (2010), professional values differ from personal ones, and different generations tend to uphold different ones.
Main Features of Values
According to Schwartz’s Theory of Basic Values, affect and values are inextricably connected. Values become saturated with emotion once we activate them. They transcend specific situations and actions, which distinguishes them from attitudes and norms. They refer to action-motivating, desirable goals.
Personal Core Values
Core values serve as criteria or standards, guiding the choice or evaluation of people, actions, or events. We decide what is justified or not based on the possible impact our decision would have on our values. We do not always do this consciously. Sometimes, we become aware of their values when the judgment or action they are considering has ambiguous implications for their cherished values. We order values by their relative importance to one another.
To identify personal core values, we ask ourselves questions like ‘what goals do I want to attain?’ or ‘what makes me happy?’ We establish core values, which are most important to us, by ranking the answers.
Organizational Core Values
Organizational or company values and personal values are similar in that they serve as guiding principles for words and actions and as markers of identity. They differ in that company values are pre-set, while we are responsible for uncovering our individual ones.
The core values of an organization underlie all activity, including the strategies used to fulfil a purpose, and how the members of the organization interact with one another. They are the core elements of how people approach their work.
The Importance of Core Values in Our Personal Lives
Core values drive behaviour and form beliefs. Examples of core values include reliability, dependability, loyalty, honesty, commitment, consistency, and efficiency. People in satisfying relationships will often say their partner shares their values. They are usually talking about core values, which dictate how they live their lives.
Examples of positive core values include a belief in managing resources wisely and being frugal, that family is crucial, that one must earn trust, or that honesty is the best policy. Another reason core values are important is that parents rely on them as guiding principles for their children on how to be happy and successful in their adult lives.
If we lived in an ideal world, core values would be exclusively positive. However, values like greed and self-interest are sometimes among them. Negative values develop when people are forced to survive in difficult situations or live in insecurity or fear.
Importance of Core Values in the Corporate World
Core values facilitate decision-making. A company will eliminate all subpar products if its core value is standing behind quality. Core values educate current and future clients and customers about the company’s identity. They form expectations for the outcome of future interactions. A set of constructive values helps a company gain a competitive edge.
Core values are transforming into key tools for recruiting and retention. Job seekers will apply for jobs at companies that share their values. Core values can help distinguish a company’s identity in specific ways. A company becomes more competitive, both in the marketplace and as an employer when its clients and employees know what it stands for. Core values establish that.
Forbes Magazine recommends employers “trade 90 per cent talent for 10 per cent character.” A company’s productivity increases when it attracts like-minded employees who share its values. Companies that abide by their values demonstrate integrity, which is an essential tool to foster loyalty.
Core values also influence behaviour. When a company defines and enforces specific values, employees are inspired to go above and beyond the call of duty. This makes employee criticism a question of upholding the values. When companies operate, hire, and exercise accountability, this shapes the work environment and allows them to maintain high performance even as leadership, employees, or circumstances change.
The Benefits of Identifying Clear Core Values
A company is better able to define its culture and even its reason to exist by identifying its core values, going beyond the services or products it offers. Individuals who identify their values experience less stress and an augmented sense of purpose.
Tips to Identify Organizational Core Values
To help define company culture, it is necessary to bring together a diverse group of people on different organizational levels: managers, executives, product developers, frontline employees, and customer service representatives. It can help to bring in interns or part-time employees.
Once you’ve formed the group, organize a brainstorming session and encourage all participants to contribute. Ask them who their culture would be if it were a person. Ask them to explain why. Make a list of repetitive or similar responses. Record descriptions and phrases, not only words. Similarities in answers are an indicator of the prevalence and strength of your culture.
You should ultimately end up with a representative list. To define core values, you need to narrow this list down. Share traits and get feedback from employees. Large companies can achieve this by conducting employee surveys. Ideally, your list should have five to ten values that are most representative of your company culture. These are the main pillars of culture, not a detailed catalogue of personality traits.
What Core Values are Not
Core values are not equivalent to cultural norms, business strategies, or operating practices. They do not change in response to administration or market changes. They are not competencies, and one does not use them individually.
Core Values: The Ultimate Purpose
Core values should create a healthy work environment that is conducive to attaining a common goal. They function as a unifying force. If employees do not share values, this can (and often does) damage not only productivity but also working relationships. Successful companies make sure their employees share the core values of the organization.