Refresh Your Core Values: Corporate Life Edition

Excellence. Stewardship. Client Service. Professionalism. Team Work. Entrepreneurship.

Core values from my former employer who have now transitioned to:

  • Unflinching courage
  • Passionate service
  • Ferocious integrity
  • Collective ingenuity
  • Champion’s heart

The first version sounds strong and meaningful, but when thinking about uniqueness and impact, they are meaningless. We were assessed by them yearly during our performance evaluation and had a desire to aspire and live those words when at headquarters or at client-site. As consultants we had the same “image” and level of professionalism, all wearing suits and speaking in acronyms. However, with the emergence of the millennials and cool start-ups in Silicon Valley, organizations have become aware to re-fresh values. Also, scandals coming from Well’s Fargo’s had everyone looking into their 37-page “Vision and Value’s” pamphlet and wondering why they have not lived up to their values.


Core values are a list of principle that acts as pillars for a company. They represent a company’s identity and uniqueness. Typically the voice of the values comes from the CEO or senior leadership, marketing team. Coming up with core values that describe an organization is not an easy feat, but it should address “what we do” “who we are” “what we love”, not a bunch of words that can apply to hundreds of other organization.

Let’s say you are a Yoga studio such as “Empower Yoga” (random site I found online) and the core values are: Accessible Yoga; Quality & Professionalism; Continuous Improvement & Innovation; Live with Intention and Step Into Action; Cultivate Love. Which core value does not belong? Personally, quality & professionalism seems very generic. The rest seems to fit perfectly with what I expect from a Yoga Studio. Quality & Professionalism can even be generic for places like law firms. What sets you apart?

What does your mission statement and core values say about your organization? Externally and internally it means everything. From an inner circle of employees, your mission as an organizational leader is to instill the core values so everyone can connect to it and live it in their daily work life. The core values can reside on your website, marketing, whitepapers, t-shirts, mugs and the list goes on. While they are a bunch of words, they can help drive how your employees think about the organization and how they should behave.

How to Refresh Your Core Values

From industry experience, here is what I think the most effective way to refresh your core values.

Create an atmosphere where corporate values are fresh and forward thinking. During recruitment efforts, there should be an emphasis on the culture, but it comes down to making an organizational change to make them reflective and true to your organization. Millennials look for community engagement and networking, diversity, work-life balance, technology flexibility and close relationship.

Keep in mind that cultural values are different in every region of the world, so conduct a survey. Spend time to speak to employees in your organization about what it means to be an employee at your organization, what would you like to see from the organization. Ask them for key verbs and use those to help shape your re-branded culture. Look at your policies and procedures and think about what language it uses. Coming up with an inclusive and fresh cultural value that is truly inclusive provides better quality and performance in your organization. The cultural value can range from actual written corporate values to activities, e-mail messaging, policies within your organization. These can also be reflected in how you brand yourself.

Let me know if you have gone any organizational core value refresh. Have you found it useful? Have you found the change disrupting the workplace?




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