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Company Values Minus the Flimflam

Company values. Corporate values. Core values. Guiding principles. Whatever you call them, they need to have purpose beyond text on your company’s “about us” page. If your values don’t have real purpose, you need to recreate them. We did.

At Infinia Search, our values are dubbed “Standards We Live By” because we understand and appreciate the potential impact core values have on performance. We looked at the process of developing them as equally as important as the values themselves. For us, that meant deep dives, thoughtful conversations, hard work and patience. The result? Strong, authentic values.

We wanted our company values to guide our culture in terms of daily decisions, how you treat others, and, most importantly for us, the recruiting journey. The point is to gain and keep the trust of our clients and candidates, as well as the trust of our employees. Strong, consistently applied values are the ticket.

Your core values can add to culture or be a culture robber. It’s like our first standard, Culture is King, says: The same way weather makes snowflakes, culture makes work. The behavior of your team starts with the tenets of your organization. That includes the good and the bad. But just because your values are lacking or aren’t a good representation of what your company truly values, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them.

Who really needs to be involved? Everyone.

When we recreated our values, we included our founders and staff to identify what was important to everyone. And wouldn’t you know it, one of our standards turned out to be Collaboration over Competition. This standard is important in our everyday business, but it was especially important for our inclusive initiative to develop new values.

What values are, and what they aren’t.

At the same time, we reimagined the organization’s Mission. It was important to understand that values are different. The Mission says what we do, and it says it simply. “Make the right matches between candidates and employers by taking the time to understand them both.” Our values say how we accomplish our mission. And it’s kind of impossible to talk about what company values are without talking about what they aren’t. They aren’t fluffy statements that say who we want to be. Ours say who we are and what’s important to the people who make up our organization.

Keep it simple.

The first step in actually living our standards was making sure they apply to everyone in our organization, from the top down. Creating values that pertain even to the company’s founders helps avoid the trap of using values to police your people. We also took care to position values clearly in our employees’ daily work lives. We didn’t write out long flowery paragraphs that sound good but take too long to read and are maybe even too hard to understand. Our standards are written in plain language so they can’t be confused, and they aren’t so abstract that they can’t be measured or implemented in a real way.

The bottom line is this: values are more than words that hang on a sign in the break room and something you only really expose employees to during on-boarding. If you take the time and effort to develop and implement accurate values, they can help set expectations for your employees, uplift culture, and mold and guide your entire organization’s behavior.