In a recent blog post, I identified the key concepts leaders should bear in mind when establishing core values. Here, I’ll discuss why having these values is so critical — not just to the success of an organization, but to a team or department.
- It gets everyone “rowing in the same direction.”
One of the responsibilities of a leader is to get everyone working toward a common goal. It can become easy for teams to lose focus and instead get distracted by “shiny object syndrome.” Core values can help ensure everyone is speaking a common language and upholding a consistent set of values. This can help tremendously when a leader is trying to create a culture of accountability and personal responsibility throughout the team.
As Roy Disney once said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
- It brings the team back to “true north.”
In times past, flags were used on the battlefield to help the soldiers navigate through the chaos and fog of war. Flags had multiple purposes, such as giving commands to soldiers that included when to retreat, advance, rally, etc. They were also used to aid the soldiers in locating their regimen and boost morale during the heat of the battle. While we are not in a literal battle, core values can be used similarly to aid our teams during time of confusion, stress, or change. Values can be used as the standard by which our teams work and interact together. They can also be used as a rallying point for the team.
- It serves as “yardstick” for staffing and recruitment.
Interviewing and hiring can be a mix of both art and science. The candidates must possess the skills necessary to perform the job for which they are being interviewed. In addition (and in many ways, more importantly), they must be a good cultural fit for the team and the organization. One of the tools that can aid in determining cultural fit is by using core values. Questions can be asked of the candidate to better understand if their values align with that of the team. Other interviewers can also rank and score candidates based on how well they feel they would support and promote these values. This provides a tangible way to score some of the “soft” areas of the interview while better understanding the interviewee. Interestingly, this can also serve as a recruitment tool, as potential candidates will desire to work with a team that shares their principles. Lastly, core values can also be used as a guide to coach and mentor staff if their actions run contrary to the team’s values, and help ensure everyone on the team is held to the same standards.
Core values do not have to exist exclusively at the company level; they can be used at the team and/or department level as well. Establishing, communicating, and promoting core values throughout the team can assist leaders in creating a philosophy that everyone adopts and fosters. If you have not explored the benefits of implementing core values for your team, I encourage you to try it out. The exercise of coming up with your teams core values is worth the effort it takes. It also provides some great insight into what principles and behaviors your team members hold in high esteem.
This piece was originally posted on CIO Reflections, a blog created by Michael Saad, VP and CIO at University of Tennessee Medical Center. His diverse career path also includes leadership roles with TrustPoint Solutions and Henry Ford Health System. To follow him on Twitter, click here.