Define and Live Core Values

Corporate values that clearly establish expectations

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“LSA’s ability to help us define and live core values to keep us aligned during extreme growth created the glue and rules of the road for us to be successful as a firm.”
Brenda Wagner | Founder & President | Proxicom

Leaders often look to define and live core values when there is a need to increase accountability, improve organizational health, protect cultural norms, or get everyone on the same page regarding fundamental beliefs and expectations that matter most.

Regardless of the reason, corporate values, along with your vision and mission statement, are a key strategic driver that sets the organizational direction and expectations.  Done right, core values improve how people get hired, promoted, developed, managed, engaged, and retained.

The Difference Between Core and Aspirational Values
To define and live core values, one of the first steps is to understand the difference between core and aspirational values.  We define core values as the fundamental beliefs and decision making filters that:

  • Are deeply ingrained
  • Guide an organization’s actions
  • Are never broken or compromised
  • Make a company distinct

We define aspirational corporate values as expectations that are currently lacking throughout the organization but would be nice to have now or in the future.  While aspirational values can be exciting to discuss, it is difficult to integrate aspirations into talent and performance management processes.  Because of this difficulty, we believe that core values help to create the clarity of expectations required to make a meaningful difference.

We believe that corporate values should be thoughtfully, strategically, and practically designed from the bottom up.  The typical steps to define and live core values are:

1.  Review Current Values
Review existing values with key stakeholders to:

  • Create clear delineation between values and define what each value looks like in action
  • Identify priorities and gaps in the current values
  • Understand where employee input matters most

2.  Conduct Employee Discovery
Gather insights through a combination of interviews, focus groups, and surveys from employees regarding:

  • What the values mean to them and look like in action
  • Where value gaps exist
  • Why a value is important and which values are the highest priority

3.  Draft Competencies and Behavioral Anchors
Based upon employee feedback and analysis, the next steps are to create a draft outlining:

  • 4 to 6 core values that matter most
  • 2 to 3 competencies for each value
  • 1 to 2 behavioral anchors for each competency

4.  Conduct Internal Competency Checkpoint
Facilitate checkpoints with key stakeholders to confirm that the competencies and behaviors accurately reflect the core values.

5.  Align Core Values Across Employee Levels
Align the core values across key employee levels (e.g. individual contributor, manager, executive) by defining values-based competencies with behavioral anchored performance scales for each level.

If you want a practical way to define and live core values to help take your organizational health to the next level, please contact us to learn more.

Related Information

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We looked to LSA Global as a consulting partner to help us explore innovative and scholarly approaches to promote employee engagement and sustain the unique culture we’ve built over the last decade.  LSA helped us perpetuate coaching as a discipline across the organization by integrating our core values, goal setting, and performance management.

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