This is something we are continuously working on and something i’ve been studying and experimenting with since my previous enterprise, the efforts in building a values based organisation. Currently in Pulse Asia we have not implemented a handbook, instead we have a values guide. A guide that talks about each of our core values, what they mean, and what behaviours are associated with each value. We make our decisions (try!) based on our core values, run activities that are in-line with these values, and also hire people who believe in our values. So here’s me trying to answer questions i frequently get asked on core values and hopefully help you to develop your organisations’ core values.
So what is a values based organisation?
There are probably various definitions and interpretations but here’s mine.
A values based organisation is an organisation that isn’t constricted by a 30-page handbook, not suffocating from rules and regulations, nor is its creativity stifled by processes and red tapes. A values based organisation is one where people trust each other to make decisions and operate in the best interest of the team and the big picture. A values based organisation is an organisation that is made up of people who share common values.
Why is it called a values based organisation?
Because it is governed by a set of core values. Just like how each household has their own set of family values, or how each religion has its own beliefs and practices, and how every community comes together and stays together. Religion, country, community, clubs, associations, all comprise of people who share common values. An organisation is what it is because of the people in the organisation, an organisation hence is a community. A community of people who share the same common values. Being governed by a set of core values means all decisions, evaluations, and rewards are made based on these values. A values based organisation aims to promote and cultivate good human behaviour through its values, and trust the good nature of human beings to always operate at their best.
Why should i spend resources on developing and promoting core values?
Because core values are the intrinsic guiding principles and the soul of the organisation, values form the foundation of culture, and culture determines how people perform, interact, engage and represent the brand. Core values set the tone for the company’s standard, set accountability and drive desired behaviorus.
When hiring, we speak of ‘fit’ and we all know that skills can be taught but character and personality is innate, so how do we find someone who is a ‘fit’ for our organisation? What do we use as a gauge for ‘fit’? While not 100% perfect (because nothing is!), core values serve as a guide for what to look out for and serve as the basis of evaluating a potential hire. It also serves to attract the right candidate, job seekers are aware of your core values (because you promote them like crazy!) and will only apply if their personal values are aligned with the organisation’s.
For a team to work passionately together to create great things, it has to be made up of people who believe in the same thing, people who believe what we believe, people who have the same values system.
What are Pulse Asia’s core values?
1. Focus On Self Improvement
2. Have Fun At Work
3. We Are Family
4. A.R.T – Accountability, Reliability, Transparency
5. From The Heart
We won’t dive into explaining each and every core value but these are the values that we found best represented The Pulselites, who we are and who we always want to be. Collectively these values ensure we operate, develop and grow as better human beings even outside of Pulse Asia.
There are so many values, how do i develop mine for my organisation?
Here’s how we developed ours. A request was sent out to the founding PulsElites to curate their personal values. We listed them all out and looked for similar values, these were then studied, reworded or shortened and became our values. We also studied and debated on values that the founders felt were values that would drive the organisation and values that would make The PulsElites unique, and these were added to the list. It will be easy to list a dozen core values, in the end it would mean absolutely nothing if the team can’t remember them yet alone understand and practice these values. So we studied the list of core values again, and grouped some them under a common value. Finally developing our 6-core values.
Values are not words on a wall.
Many (most) organisations spend thousands of dollars hiring professionals to come up with their core values, spend more again on developing handbooks for core values (wtf!), create lengthy explanations for memos and posters, throw a big fanfare to launch core values, and then put them on a wall in the lobby for all to see. Then it stops there.
Core values are yours, nobody can develop them for you.
It does help to have someone help facilitate the development of your core values, but that is as far as that person’s role goes, facilitation. Core values come from the ‘core’ of the organisation, its people, its leadership.
Core values don’t need lengthy explanations.
If it requires explanation, its probably not going to be remembered and understood let alone practised.
Consistent and deliberate practice.
Its great to create excitement about your core values and it is good to have them plastered up to continuously remind everyone. But it means absolutely nought if its not consistently and deliberately put into practice. Simply having values doesn’t bring any value. It require constant effort of internally promoting these values, evaluating and measuring people based on theses values, making decisions based on values, ensuring values are inter winded into daily conversations and actions. Values drive behaviour.
Hope my thoughts on core values help you develop and implement yours. And if you require any help facilitating the development and implementation of core values, drop me a message and i’d be happy to assist where possible. If you are located in Malaysia and time permitting, we can talk values over a cuppa.
“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”
― Tony Hsieh. Zappos.com, Delivering Happiness.