What Are Your Core Values?

I have mentioned previously that one of the things I enjoy and appreciate about my opportunity to speak to various types of groups is that it is a constant learning process for me. Each time I prepare and present, I learn through the preparation research and then at the event itself. Sometimes, I will listen to speakers before and/or after me. Sometimes, I will attend panel discussions involving people within the organization or industry.
When a corporate client with whom I do ongoing work contacted me recently to see if I would assist the corporation in establishing and clarifying some specific core values, I searched for notes I gathered at a conference for non-profit organizations a while back. During a panel discussion at this conference, an administrator said he assembles a staff of qualified employees who believe in his organization’s values by focusing on these values when job applicants are interviewed.
He said, “I explain our corporate value system in the initial interview and give specific situational examples of how the system works within the organization. Our values are the first impression a potential employee gets of us. And when new employees receive their orientation, I spend two hours explaining our value system.” He went on to say the core values are frequently reinforced to his staff.
In the discussion, this administrator told of the five core values emphasized in his organization. These include: (1) the accessibility of services to clients (2) the effectiveness of program and staff (3) skill, integrity and compassion (4) the responsiveness to clients’ needs and (5) the inclusion of clients in service development, delivery and evaluation. He said these core values are the basis for everything that happens in the organization.
He gave a simple example of a specific application by mentioning the “three-ring rule” as a part of the “responsiveness to clients” value. It is a known fact that staffers are expected to answer the telephone quickly, before three rings. The rule applies equally to supervisors and the administrator. He said, “My supervisors and I know if we hear a phone ringing three times, we must answer the call.”
The administrator said the values not only help employees and clients but they also keep the administrator from being a “heavy” when he makes a request of his staff. He said, “As CEO, I could mandate the rule and the employees would be ticked-off. But when the “three-ring rule,” or any rule, is explained as a part of our value system, it just makes good sense. When employees understand the direction we’re taking, why we implement a specific program, and it is explained as part of our values, then the actions of the organization take on a real meaning.”
The administrator said each year his organization’s objectives within the total mission are explained to employees in terms of the specific core values. The values are also spotlighted and reinforced in the employees’ annual performance reviews.
Of course, there are many things to consider when specific core values are put in place for a specific organization. And, everyone who comes into the organization or is already in the organization must understand them and see the relevance of the values in specific, practical, day-to-day operations. The corporation with whom I am now working is interested in broadening the expectations by establishing both core character and core values expectations, involving such things as honesty, respect, reliability, attitude and confidentiality.
The big question for you as a reader is double fold: “Does your organization have a core values system in place and do you understand and actively implement it?”
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or carlmays@carlmays.com. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on www.carlmays.com and Amazon.com.


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