We often hear organisations refer to their company values but how do we establish what they are and do we help employees really understand what they mean? This was the dilemma facing one small business who wanted to introduce a set of guiding principles into their company. Several of the Senior Leadership Team had seen the benefit of these in larger organisations but wanted to ensure they chose the correct values that defined their culture and who they truly were as people. Once these values were defined they wanted to ensure they ran through the whole company from recruitment, induction, performance management to reward through to policies and procedures. More often than not when we are asked by businesses to help them define what their core company values are, we find that they already exist, it’s just they take a bit of unravelling and defining. In this instance, we started the project by taking the Senior Management Team away from their day to day activities. The meeting was designed to facilitate a creative and strategic environment. During this meeting, we asked the team to initially think of 3 key people who really made a difference to their business. Once these names were on the whiteboard the team were asked to brainstorm all the characteristics that these employees embodied. They were asked to describe their key qualities and this brainstorm was the first step to defining their values. The next exercise was to ‘Keep, kill or combine’ the characteristics listed. As the term suggests, the team went down the long list deciding whether a trait stayed on the list, was removed as it was not as important as the others or combined with another similar trait or characteristic. This allowed the list to become sharper and focused, moving closer to the elusive set of values the team seeked. The final stage in the brainstorm was perhaps the most challenging aspect and this was determining from the shorter list which values were really true to the organisation. After some tough debate and discussion, the company determined 5 core values and were asked to reflect on these and revisit them over the forthcoming month before they were signed off and agreed. After reflection and with a few minor tweaks, the values were finalised and were ready to be cascaded to the business. Presenting values to fellow employees is a critical aspect of this process. A key to their success is the initial engagement and therefore we coached the team to ensure that these values were brought to life in the launch presentation with stories, analogies and some wonderful illustrations. This was the crucial step to bringing these values to life and helping embed them in the organisation. Moving forward the company is now tasked with undertaking a review of all their HR processes to ensure that they reflect their 5 core values and that they continue to engender the values in their everyday work life. To see an example, take a look at Beststart’s company values. Defining and embedding an organisation’s values is just one part of the Strategy segment of the Productivity Wheel. If you would like guidance on how to introduce values into your organisation, please contact Beststart HR.