4 Tips for Crafting Your Organization’s Core Values
If your mission is the blueprint for your organization’s work – the what, why, and for whom – and the vision is the artist’s rendering of the realization of that mission, then organizational values are your ethical and moral compass and the foundation of your decision-making process. They serve as a guide for how things get done and inform your day-to-day work routines, interactions and approaches.
Ideally, values should represent the core beliefs and principles that people in your organization, whatever their roles or duties, hold dear. Values can also have a significant impact on external stakeholders. They provide a crucial window into your organization’s cultural DNA for potential clients, partners, funders and collaborators. Well-crafted value statements offer a glimpse into an organization’s work environment, approach and priorities.
Given that values play a crucial role in shaping the identity, culture, and success of an organization, here are our 4 tips to keep in mind when crafting your organization's core values:
Less is more. Organizational values are best when they are few in number (between 5 and 10) but high in meaning and lived daily.
Heart and head alignment. Values should help people make decisions that strike a balance between the organization's mission – the who and why – and the organization's financial sustainability – the what and how.
Addressing unspoken values. These are unwritten cultural beliefs shaped by experiences that often directly conflict with your aspirational values. They exist whether spoken or not. Bringing them to the surface provides the opportunity to reset expectations and perceptions.
Spell it out. Focus on the critical areas of service, quality, people, work norms, beliefs and sensibilities. Use concise, clear and jargon-free language.
Crafting your organizational values should be more than an exercise in committing words to paper. It is a unique opportunity to explore your work culture as it exists now and define what it could become – a culture where each person is inspired and empowered to learn, grow, and succeed.