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4 Strategies for Creating Company Values that Inspire

hiring leadership strengths talent strategy Oct 08, 2018

Company values? Check.

Wait. Not so fast.

It’s become a modern day requirement for companies to have stated values, and for good reason. Well conceived value statements perpetuate a culture that is cohesive, inspired, and attractive to outside talent.

Simply having a list of idyllic words framed in the company lobby, however, doesn’t fulfill the requirement.

To keep you from the pitfalls of well-intended company values gone bad, follow these important dos and dont’s:


DON’T choose values that are ASPIRATIONAL.

DO choose values that are AUTHENTIC.


Yes, a certain word may sound great. But if it doesn’t characterize your company as it is, then it isn’t the right descriptor. Your company values should be a reflection of what’s true and being lived out now, not what you hope to be in the future.

To ensure your values reflect reality, interview a cross section of your organization. Ask questions like:

  • “What does it take to be a star in our company?”
  • “What qualities do our best team members exemplify?”
  • “What is life like in our organization?”

Themes will appear in the answers you receive. These are clues to your authentic company culture.


DON’T choose values that are EXPECTED.

DO choose values that are UNIQUE.


It is tempting to choose words like responsibility, trustworthiness, or integrity. But, shouldn’t those descriptors fit every company? Avoid claiming the obvious or essential things. Instead, seek out those qualities that truly set your company apart.


DON’T choose values that are LIMITING.

DO choose values that are ALL-INCLUSIVE.


Who could argue with values like innovation and entrepreneurship? I can.

Yes, those traits are required in every organization. And yes, those may have been the exact characteristics that got your company to where it is today.

Yet, is innovation needed 100% of the time in every role in your organization?

Focus on those values that can be embraced every day, on every task, by every member of the company. Each person may live out the value in a unique way, but the core motivation remains the same.


DON’T assume values have matching BEHAVIORS.

DO understand that values spur ACTION.


Productivity begins with motivation, which fuels us to act. If an employee isn’t motivated, he or she won’t put forth effort and nothing gets done.

Once an employee is motivated, the second step is to allocate efforts, hopefully in a way that maximizes results. We each have an instinctual method for striving. When operating within our natural strengths, we are most productive and satisfied.

Company values are a key factor in motivating people to commit their efforts to your organization. However, every person strives differently. Your company culture should not only allow for, but also celebrate different approaches.

Take the value of “Customer First,” for example. One employee may live out the value by ensuring deadlines are met, while another innovates new ways to serve customers. Same value; two approaches.


Here’s the bottom line:

Company values done well can give you a clear advantage in the marketplace for both attracting and retaining top talent. Company values done poorly can actually be a detractor, leading to high turnover and low company morale. For that reason, creating inspiring company values is not another box to check. Tread these waters carefully and take the exercise seriously.


We are here to help.

We’d love to help you craft inspiring company values. We’ve facilitated this process for many of our clients. It would be a privilege to do the same for you. Contact us to learn more.

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