Principle 2 of the Christ-Centered Company Assessment: “Our company has a clearly stated, Bible-based statement of core identity and purpose that is well-understood by our company’s team members.”
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. And you shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. You shall also tie them as a sign to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. You shall also write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. -Deut 6:6-9
The children of Israel were instructed to think and talk about God’s commandments constantly. This would help them to always have God’s values at the forefront of their minds throughout the day to influence their decision-making at home, work, and everywhere else. There was literally not a single time when they were not expected to meditate on God’s values.
Likewise, your company’s Bible-based, Christ-centered core values should form the basis for how your company will express its core purpose to your team members, customers, and other stakeholders. These values should be top-of-mind for all of your team members as they make decisions on behalf of your company.
Your company already has core values.
Whether you realize it or not, your company’s culture has already established a hierarchy of prevailing values that magnify and solidify the culture that already defines your company.
The problem is, of course, the values that have organically infiltrated and dominated your company may be counterproductive to what you believe is the company’s Christ-centered identity and purpose. Examples of such counterproductive values may include the following:
- Win at any cost.
- Never admit when you’re wrong.
- Do just enough to get by.
- Destroy the competition.
Without being deliberate and aggressive about identifying and teaching the core values that will help your company grow its Christ-centered culture, it’s inevitable that counterproductive values like the ones mentioned above will dominate and shape the destiny of your company.
If you’ve lost control of the value system in your company, the good news is you can still be the godly influence needed to shift the culture back in the right direction.
What should your core values be?
Establishing core values for your organization doesn’t need to be complicated and time-consuming. There are really only a few criteria that I believe are essential to establishing core values for your company:
- Ask God to show you the right core values for your company.
- Ensure that your core values are expressions of your company’s core purpose.
- Invite feedback from your team members.
- Limit the number of core values to no more than 3-7. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you and your team to give each one the focus needed to get your team rowing in the same direction.
When I served in the U.S. Air Force, I learned that the USAF’s three core values are 1) integrity, 2) service before self, and 3) excellence in all we do. These three concepts might seem generic to some, but they are absolutely Bible-based and effective for cultivating the kind of outstanding corporate culture I proudly experienced as an officer in the U.S. Air Force from 2004 to 2008.
Display your core values in strategic places throughout your company.
Along with your company’s statement of purpose, consider publishing your core values and hanging them on the walls, printing them on business-card size handouts, and other ways to help your people see them more frequently.
Publicly recognize your team members when they demonstrate your company’s core values.
Your company’s stated values won’t make much of a noticeable impact on your corporate culture unless you provide opportunities for your people to share and discuss examples of how they are being put into action regularly.
At High Bridge Books, our core values are 1) integrity, 2) encouragement, 3) continuous improvement, and 4) impact. At least once per month, we devote a portion of a staff meeting to what we call “values-in-action reports” from our team members. This is a time when each team member is asked to share a recent example of a moment when he/she observed one of his/her fellow team members demonstrating one of our values.
We adopted this idea from Christ-centered company Polydeck (Spartanburg, SC) who has been operating an “I Caught You Caring” program for many years as a means for team members to affirm their coworkers for modeling their company’s core values. Team members who are “caught caring” for others are honored at company-wide staff meetings and given a special t-shirt.
Incentivize commitment to the core values.
As you walk around your company, consider offering a $10 or $20 bill to employees who can recite your company’s core values on demand.
What are some other ways you can help your team members think about your core values constantly and put them into action?