Part 3: Making Your Core Values Work for You
Now that you’ve written your Core Values and defined them, it’s time to take things to the next level: making them work for you. Your Core Values should determine who you hire (and who you let go), as well as help cultivate a positive atmosphere at work.
Let’s explore how to implement your Core Values in a way that encourages alignment.
Hiring with Core Values
If you’re serious about making your Core Values an integral part of your business, you need to rely on them to help you make the tough decisions—including onboarding employees. Fortunately, Core Values can simplify the hiring process quite a bit. Resumes and platforms like LinkedIn allow you to see your applicants’ values and determine if their interests align with yours before you even decide to interview them.
For example, let’s look at two of Drips’ Core Values: Lean and Passion. Lean is something that often appears on resumes, especially when applicants mention making data-driven decisions. When we see someone emphasize aspects of leanness (such as strong prioritization skills), we know they might be a better fit for our company than someone who doesn’t share our priorities. Core Values such as Passion, though, are harder to find. We’re used to seeing applicants emphasize accomplishments and accolades on their resumes, but they rarely give examples of how much they care about their work. When we do see someone passionate about an aspect of their job, it’s a good indicator that this employee is more likely to be aligned with our values.
Because it’s unlikely that an applicant will have all of your Core Values on their resume or LinkedIn profile, it’s essential to build leading questions during the interview process based on your values. Design carefully crafted questions that will let you know if a potential employee will embody a Core Value without asking them: “How do you embody the following Core Value?” For example, to determine if an applicant has the Core Value of Passion, you could ask: “What’s something you are obsessed about?” If the applicant’s answer matches your definition of the particular Core Value, they’re probably a good candidate.
Having trouble coming up with interview questions? Here are some of our favorites, along with their corresponding Core Values:
- What’s the last thing that made you sad?
- When was the last time you missed a deadline, and why did you miss it?
- Tell me about a time you had to work through a problem during a crisis. How did you get through it?
- What’s the last book you read, and what did you learn from it?
- What’s something you’d like to learn more about, and what’s standing in your way from learning it?
- Who are some mentors in your life, and what have they taught you?
Shaping Employee Behavior Through Core Values
Because Drips places such a strong emphasis on Core Values, we’re able to align all aspects of our business around them. This includes everything from our quarterly reviews (in which 50% of our team member success is based on Core Values) to HR activities like hiring, orientation, and recognition. We also offer coaching and development opportunities for employees who want to strengthen a particular Core Value (more on that later).
The heavy emphasis on Core Values has allowed us to notice some positive trends in our employees’ behaviors. We’ve found that those who meet Core Values tend to stay and thrive at Drips longer because they like working here and actively contribute to our business goals. We also found that those who have left (or have been let go) lack a particular Core Value. Furthermore, individuals who have demonstrated alignment to our Core Values are given more leeway than team members who do not.
If you place a strong emphasis on your Core Values, you’ll likely see a similar pattern in your employees.
Strengthening Your Employees’ Core Values
In the previous section, we mentioned development opportunities that you can use to help emphasize your Core Values. At Drips, we have a few different approaches, but our top two recommendations include book clubs and employee spotlights/recognition.
Forget the stereotypes about book clubs being uninteresting and bland. If you select a book that is approachable and relevant, your employees will engage with it. The key for a successful book club is to have a leader outline some key points to emphasize and encourage individuals to contribute to the discussion. You can even rotate the leader so that everyone feels in charge of the material at one point. Just make sure that the book relates somehow to your Core Values. (It can even be a bad example of a Core Value—sometimes those are the strongest.)
Employee spotlights allow you to acknowledge employees who demonstrate Core Values on a regular basis (we recommend announcing them at a monthly all-hands meeting). Doing these frequently places a continued emphasis and importance on your Core Values. When Drips was first starting out, our CEO would hand-pick the employees he wanted to recognize. But as we grew, it became more feasible to crowdsource these recognitions so that everyone has the opportunity to recognize and be recognized. We also feature a larger quarterly all-hands meeting to acknowledge the person who has demonstrated all of our Core Values.
Remember, your Core Values should always be evolving, so we suggest you reexamine them every quarter to strengthen your organization’s purpose. Want more information on how to accomplish this? Check out our previous Core Values blog.