“The key is not what core values an organization has but that it has core values at all.”

– Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last

According to a 2023 Gartner study, 82% of employees say it’s important for their organization to see them as a person, not just an employee. Unfortunately, only 45% of employees believe their organization actually sees them that way. Especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, recent economic and political volatility, and the “Great Resignation”, Gartner explains, people are looking for more value and purpose in their work.

Living out Rockefeller Habit #7 is a great way to make sure people feel connected to the organization and the people they work with to provide a greater sense of purpose.

If your organization does not yet have a set of Core Values, you should make it a priority to figure them out, get them right, and start bringing them to life. It will take some time to get them right, but they will also provide clear guidance for years to come. For more details on how to get started, look into Jim Collins’ Mission to Mars exercise.

The main principle when going through the exercise is this:

You don’t set Core Values – you discover Core Values.

As the opening quote alludes to, the important part is to discover the values already present in your organization. What the values are comes secondary to the fact that you define and embody them.

Once your Core Values are established and written, it’s time to make them come alive. In Verne Harnish’s “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”, he outlines 8 ways to do this:

  1. Storytelling – start a tradition of telling stories throughout the organization that highlight Core Values
  2. Recruitment & Selection – only hire people that align with your Core Values
  3. Orientation – From Day 1, make sure new hires know and understand the Core Values
  4. Appraisal Process – Orient your review process around your Core Values
  5. Recognition and Reward – Reward and recognize people publicly to reinforce the importance of Core Values
  6. Internal Newsletter – Whether it’s an actual newsletter or another form of internal communication, highlight Core Values
  7. Themes – Tie in Core Values to align with key quarterly or annual company initiatives
  8. Everyday Management – Keep the Core Values top of mind when making day-to-day decisions or interacting with coworkers, clients, or customers

And when in doubt, Harnish says:

“Have a few rules, repeat yourself, and be consistent.”

A few things that have worked for us at The Kirkland Company to make sure our Core Values thrive:

  1. Early in the company’s growth, we created them based on what was already being embodied. Just like Jim Collins recommended, we discovered them instead of creating what we thought they should be.
  2. We use them to hire. Our application and interview process allows us to assess how much a candidate shares our values via a job scorecard.
  3. We use them to manage. During our regularly scheduled reviews with the team, we always ask about Core Values – Which are you resonating with? Which are you working to improve?
  4. We talk about them daily. During our Daily Huddle, one individual will kick off the meeting by reciting the Core Purpose & Values of the organization. This keeps them top of mind and ensures everyone in the organization knows them.
  5. We talk about them quarterly. At our quarterly planning meetings, we always allocate about 15-30 minutes for everyone to self-assess how they’re living out the Core Values and, just as importantly, to tell stories about how they have seen people within the organization live out the Core Values.

Our Core Values at TKC:

Selflessness – Always remember that your work has a purpose larger than yourself. If someone needs help, help. If something needs doing, do it. Don’t be “above” any task or responsibility.

Disciplined Effort – Don’t simply show up to work and start doing “stuff” – make a plan and stick to it. There is a lot to get done every day and a limited amount of time to do it.

Do the Right Thing – Let’s face it. There are times when it is easy to make money and do the wrong thing or pass on money to do the right thing. We strive to choose the right thing every time.

Market Knowledge – Subscribe to any and every news journal. Drive your market constantly. Read relevant books, articles, and content on your market or on your trade.

Compete to Win – We are in a competitive industry. Being a competitive person is a must to thrive within our organization.

Primary Source:

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish