Your Company Can Reflect Your Core Values

YFS Magazine (Young, Fabulous and Self-employed) ran an article not too long ago on “100 Core Values from 15 Winning Companies.” They looked at a range of companies, including Zappos, Toms Shoes, Whole Foods, Accenture, Teach for America, Rackspace, A Weber, Barnes & Noble, Google, American Express, Four Season Hotels & Resorts, CarMax,, Boston Consulting Group, and Quicken Loans.

Sorting the 100 core values by theme, rather than by organization, interesting trends began to emerge. These 15 high-performance companies–across various industries–certainly aim to deliver a whole lot more than profit.

The following list is presented in order of the frequency with which the value was mentioned (the number reflects the instances in which that concept was listed).

Your Company Can Reflect Your Core Values
  • Social Responsibility (16)
  • Customer Service (15)
  • Respect (8)
  • Team (8)
  • Quality (6)
  • Learning (6)
  • Integrity (4)
  • Fun (4)
  • Communication (3)
  • Partnerships (3)
  • Diversity (3)
  • Change (2)
  • Creativity (2)
  • Leadership (2)
  • Passion (2)

A group at Stanford Graduate School of Business took another stab at determining which core values matter most, by asking alumni “What values are important to you in business?” Key themes emerging from their interviews included, treating others the way you want to be treated (Respect), Integrity, Open and honest communication, Trust, Appreciation, Honesty, Passion, Transparency, and Making a difference.

With Social Responsibility and Customer Service topping the list, it is impressive to see companies looking outside themselves.

Identifying core values for yourself or within a company can provide structure and instruction, especially when dealing with a certain decision or dispute. If one of your core values is honesty, for example, you would refer back to it when deciding whether or not a certain piece of information should be kept secret. Once you have the answers, use them to reflect back on your list of approximately fifty core values. At this point, you should narrow the list down to just four to ten core values that accurately encompass your business’ purpose in the world and its commitment to employees, clients, and communities. Add Your Commitment Statements.

Several tools can help your group discuss and promote your organization’s core values:

1) The Values Game: Discuss personal values and group norms.

This game is an aid to reaching consensus in groups, teams or organizations, on the values and norms that you all consider to be important. By using and prioritizing these cards, people not only become more aware of what they value, but also get to appreciate other people’s perspectives.

This 140-card game includes 63 “Values” cards; 38 “Group Norms” (the rules that dictate what kind of behavior is good or bad); and 39 “Subjects” cards that will help make your discussion more concrete.

1. Values: A value is something that you find important to aspire to, that directs your actions. Some examples are: servitude, respect and justice.

Your company can reflect your core values must

2. Subjects: These are used to narrow down the discussion on values, to make it even more concrete. For example: management, education, media and politics.

3. Group norms: These are the rules that dictate what kind of behavior is good or bad, wished for or unwanted, allowed or forbidden in groups and teams. For example: ‘you must always speak the truth’ or ‘knowledge must be shared with others’.

2) i noticed… Pads: recognize efforts to implement core values

Sometimes GREAT work happens in small ways. Let people know you’ve noticed the big and small efforts they make each day to contribute to your organization, promote its mission, and create positivity.

Use carbonless Kudos to give recognition and keep a record of it! Each time you send someone a note of appreciation, you’ll have a duplicate to keep in your file — or pass on to a manager or mentor who might want to know about your hero’s achievements.

Each page is printed with: “I noticed… you took our values to heart”. Check off the appropriate boxes and include your own “from the heart” message. Set includes 3 pads; each pad is 4.25″ x 5.5″ and has 50 2-part carbonless sets.

3) Positivity Pack: include a strong message about values when onboarding new employees

Send the message that you mean business when it comes to creating a positive corporate culture or learning environment.


Give each colleague a “Positivity Pack” with eight key icons that reflect your organization’s values and personality:

  • Team guys: support and respect the team
  • Smile Ball: Make customers happy!
  • Mini-Sneaker: go the extra mile to improve quality
  • Learning Mo-Mints: keep growing and learning
  • Party Blowout: have fun (Fun)
  • Stretchy String: be flexible and open to change
  • Mirror Ball: embrace diverse perspectives
  • Crayons: express your creativity

Life as a small business owner is not easy; throughout theentire business lifecycle there are many choices – each of which can make orbreak your small business. You cannot afford to take anything for granted – youare responsible for keeping the sales pipeline going, hiring the right people,and saving up for a rainy day – all while paying your taxes on time!

And on top of that, you have the burden of setting the tonefor your entire business, so that everyone – from team members to clients topartners – understand what you’re about and why they should be connected toyou.

It may seem like a heavy load, but it really depends on howyou look at it. I mean, it is amazing that we get to work with team memberswho share our vision and with clients who appreciate what we bring to thetable.

As a small business owner, nothing happens by accident.‘Winging it’ may work for a while, but over time the cracks will start to show.What’s a small business owner to do to make success as likely as possible? Thereare many things to think about, including your vision, mission, and purpose –but to us, a foundational element to having a successful business is definingand then living out the core values of your business.

What are the core values of your business?

If you are a small business owner, and you can’t answer thatquestion, I advise that you take some time (away from the cell phone) to reallythink about this. The core values of your business will flow from what isimportant to you personally, and they likely will be influenced by what you didor didn’t like in your previous life as a traditional employee.

Ideally, you set these values at the outset of creating yourbusiness, but even if you’ve owned your business for years it’s never too lateto take a step back and take stock of where you’re at. Here are a few steps werecommend:

Your Company Can Reflect Your Core Values Must

Step 1: Take the morning or afternoon off away from your inbox, go to your favorite coffee shop, and think about what’s important to you – what values do you want to infuse into your business? (Note: if your business is a few years old or you’ve already created these values, take some time to honestly reflect on whether or not 1) these values are truly infused into your business, and 2) you want to add or remove any values based on anything that’s changed)

Step 2: If you have employees, schedule a meeting and discuss these values. Do they resonate with them? As an owner, at this stage you need to be willing to truly listen to feedback and consider amending your list a bit. However, don’t throw out your list – remember that you constructed this based on what is important to your core self. Alternatively, if something isn’t resonating it may mean that there are strategic or tactical things you can change to ensure that it will align better in the future.

Your Company Can Reflect Your Core Values Include

Step 3: Start to examine each component of your business and assess how well you are infusing these values into them. One way to do this is to see through the eyes of each type of person connected to your business – employees, partners, clients, and even the community at large. (Of course, better yet, you could ask them yourselves!) If you look at the client lifecycle, for example, are you embedding your values in every interaction, from the very first sales call through to the end of your relationship?

Step 4: Revisit this list every year – both by yourself and with your employees – to see if it is reflective of the atmosphere you’ve created, and/or whether anything needs to change. One specific activity you could do is review feedback you’ve received from clients over the year. Are you seeing your values reflected back to you in the way that they talk to you?

Your Company Can Reflect Your Core Values Of One

At Joy Accounting, we’ve done this exercise – although(being honest with you) I think it may be time to go through this four-stepprocess ourselves! Below are the values that we try to infuse into all ourinteractions:

Honesty – This is foundational to our business. If we make a mistake, we own up to it. If we are uncomfortable with something that is happening, we speak up.

Integrity – We at Joy Accounting do the right thing, even when it’s difficult, and we expect the same from our clients.

Creativity – We are problem solvers, and we can’t help but identify issues and help our clients find solutions to them.

Consistency – We are always there for our clients when they need us, and they view us as an integral part of their team.

Adventure – We love our life outside of work, and we bring that joy to our job. We are all remote workers, and we encourage flexibility in a way that enables our team members to put health, family, travel, and other important things in their rightful places (instead of being an afterthought).

In the spirit of asking for feedback, how are we at JoyAccounting Services doing at living our core values?