Core Values – Corporate Guiding Light or Corporate Spin?

I work as a consultant with numerous globally recognised brands – often at the forefront of Customer Experience (CX) and organisational transformation initiatives.

Before even setting foot on the client site, I have always made it an imperative to seek out and understand the organisations so-called  ‘core values’.

For me, this is essential to understanding the ‘mindset’ of a company and the way that the core values branch out into its interactions with its employees, customers, stakeholders and shareholders (in that order) – before engaging to provide my services to them.

Doing so enables me to ‘hit the ground running’ and ensure that my working behaviours are likely to be culturally sympathetic to the new environment I find myself in.

So what are core values, anyway?

We constantly hear organisations bandying around terms such as: core values, mission statements, vision and culture – but what do they actually mean? In this article, we will take a look at what we actually mean by core values – and whether they can really be meaningful, or are just more corporate spin.

In theory, core values should represent the very essence of an organisations identity – the guiding principles, beliefs and values that underpin everything that its people embody.

Core values should guide the organisations vision, shape its culture and provide clarity on what it values.

That all sounds nice, but what difference do words make?

Core values educate customers and prospective customers about the essence of what an organisation is about – perhaps indicating ecological ideals, financial probity, or a customer centric focus.

Core values are also important when recruiting and retaining employees – increasingly, job seekers are looking to work with employers that align to their own work ethic and moral compass.

Can we trust organisations to live by their core values?

Many organisations promote admiral core values – but in an age of ever increasing revelations of high-profile breaches of trust across political, financial, commercial – and even religious organisations – have we reached a point where we can no longer trust organisations to abide by the very core values they espouse?

Having worked as a consultant with many organisations across numerous industries and sectors, both public sector and private, stock market listed and privately owned – working closely with literally up to hundreds of employees at each organisation, it is has usually been possible to get a yard-stick – a real sense – of whether the core values are congruent with the behaviours of its employees.

And the votes are in… but for some, the jury is still out…

In general, most of them  align to and uphold their core values – with a few notable exceptions that I will not mention.

I am sufficiently happy to be prepared to give most organisations the benefit of the doubt – until I see or hear otherwise. Having said that – I have also self-selected those clients that I will not work with – based upon my own set of core values.

I will explore the core values of various organisations from around the world in a series of follow-up articles. I will also update this article to link to each one.

What has your experience been with organisational core values? Please share in the comments!

About deancarlton

Leader | Business Change Consultant | KJ | Yachtsman | Yoga & Meditation Teacher | Unleash the Tiger Within & release the POTENTIAL + VALUE in People & Business

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