In last week’s column, we touched on the importance of core values and how to create them in a way that is memorable and motivating. This week, I want to focus more on what to do with them once you have them.
 
For many business owners and leaders, defining the values is something they want to get done and check off the list. But identifying the values is just the start. Actually living the values, celebrating when employees live the values, and using those values as a marketing magnet to attract right-fit team members and customers is the real work.
 
Don’t keep them hidden: For your core values to deliver value to your business, they need to be front and center. This shouldn’t just be a page of your employee manual. Display your values in your office (posters, word art in the conference room, at your front desk, etc.) and in your regular day-to-day conversations in the business.
 
Let the values be part of your decision lens: If they truly are your core values, they should also reflect your business nonnegotiables. Use the values as part of the criteria you work through when you make decisions. And that’s not just for you. At all levels of the organization, teach your team to honor the values in every decision.
 
There are times when the values may be in conflict, but in that moment, one belief may trump another. But you still use the set to work through the difficult decision.
 
Recognize your believers: Leverage your team’s behavior to weave your beliefs through the culture of your organization. Your team will need examples of how your values come to life, so catch people doing it well and celebrate it. Create a monthly award and make a big deal out of people demonstrating how to do it well. In time, convert your monthly award to a peer-recognition-driven program. Let them pat each other on the back.
 
The bonus of this is that your employees will be quick to realize that they haven’t been recognized if that’s the case and either step up or decide they don’t align with the company and move out so a better fit can join you.
 
They’re not just for the team: Consumers have told us they want to align with brands they can believe in. Your core values say to your prospects and clients who you are and what you stand for. There’s no better way to communicate that than by sharing your values and then walking them out in all your interactions.
 
Woo your next employee: Just like our customers want to align with brands that share their values, so do potential employees. Through your social channels, let your values shine. If giving back is one of your beliefs, show your team at ARL, loving on the cats or participating in a Habitat build. Publicize your monthly employee recognition and talk about how your core values come to life in your policies and customer interactions.
 
Give them away: Whether it’s on a T-shirt, leather-bound journal, or jump drive, let your core values inspire your giveaways – and don’t be stingy. Give them to your team, to your clients, prospects, business partners, and always have a few in your messenger bag to hand out as you seek opportunity.
 
It’s not about the giveaway (although everyone loves free stuff), it’s about the conversation that the giveaway inspires. It will invite questions and stories about why that value is essential to your company.
 
Your core values should be infectious. They should infect how you do business, your team, your decision-making, your customers and your community. In today’s uber-competitive market for customers and team members, your core values might just be your edge.