How to Create Company Values that Inspire

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 do’s and dont’s:

DON’T choose values that are HOPEFUL.
DO choose values that reflect REALITY. 

Yes, a certain word may sound great. But if it doesn’t characterize your company as it is today, 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 (or, even better, the entire) 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?”

DON’T choose values that are “GIVENS.”
DO choose values that make you UNIQUE. 

It is tempting to choose words like “responsibility,” “trustworthiness” or “integrity.” But, shouldn’t those descriptors fit every company? One would hope these traits are prerequisites for any worker.

Avoid claiming the obvious or essential things. Instead, reflect on those qualities that truly set your company apart.

DON’T choose values that are RESTRICTING.
DO choose values that are ALWAYS RELEVANT.

Who could argue with values like innovation and entrepreneurship? We 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 INSTINCTUAL (CONATIVE) ACTION.

The creative process begins with affect, or the part of your mind that determines motivation, beliefs, and emotions. If you aren’t motivated, then you won’t commit your efforts. Period. End of story.

The second step in the creative process – once motivation exists – is the conative part of the mind. Conation determines how we commit our efforts. We each have a unique method for striving. When operating within our natural strengths, we are our best and most satisfied.

Company values are a key factor in motivating people to commit their efforts to your organization. However, every person strives differently. Your company environment should not only allow for, but celebrate, taking different routes to reach the desired result.


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, repelling job candidates, causing high turnover, and souring company morale.

This exercise is not another box to check. Tread these waters carefully and take company value creation seriously. Better yet, work with us to guide your organization successfully through this process.

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