Are Core Values Important? Ask Wells Fargo…

I trust you’re familiar with the fallout from the Wells Fargo “make a buck any way you can” fiasco. It’s just another in a long line of such business missteps created by a lack of clear and consistently followed core values as the foundation of a culture of sustained financial success.

I’m pretty excited that the core values of my company were the personal favorite of Laura Handrick, the author of a recent article in FitSmallBusiness.com (thanks Laura!). Check it out here: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/core-values-list/

It’s humbling to be mentioned in the company of some Fortune 100 companies, but I’ve helped create dozens of these lists, so it’s only reasonable to expect I’d learn a thing or two in the process.  Here are the core values that I hold dear:
  1. Have fun: everyone deserves to be happy
  2. Make money: financial success is important to happiness
  3. Do good: we treat people like we want to be treated
I like them because they’re:
  1. Simple and understandable
  2. Easy to remember
  3. Easy to measure and implement

Yes, every member of your organization should know your core values and be able to tell you what they are. More than that, they should know what your core values are by your behavior as a exemplar of these values. People care a lot more about what you do than what you say.

Make no mistake, your core values are the foundation of your culture, and your culture is the foundation of your sustained business success. Management guru Peter Drucker purportedly said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and he should know. The folks who pooh-pooh core values as “Mom and apple pie” aren’t the kind of business people who understand how to create sustained financial success.

Some practical uses for core values:

  1. Guiding strategic decisions: Is this a win-win-win course of action that is sustainable?
  2. Attracting new team members: Is this an organization I can be proud to be part of?
  3. Selecting team members: Is this person a “terrorist” who doesn’t adhere to our core values?
  4. Managing individual performance: Is this person creating sustained financial success?
High-Performance Habits

  1. Create clear and consistently practiced core values in your organization that guide your decisions.
  2. Don’t select or retain team members who don’t practice these core values (i.e. “terrorists” on the Jack Welch grid); these people will sabotage your sustained financial success every time.
  3. Measure adherence to your core values as part of individual performance management.
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