Maybe you’ve gone through a series of meetings to come up with a good mission or vision statement. Maybe you’ve hired a consultant to help you discover your real core values. Maybe you’ve printed up new signs with your mission or purpose.
But for all this hard work, what are you really supposed to DO with these words?
For example, core values.
Was that a theoretical exercise brought on by some best-practice business book? Once you’ve figured out how to word them properly, do they really make a difference?
I’d like to suggest they really do matter.
But discovering and defining them is only the beginning. Learning how to USE them in your organization is where the difference is made.
Here are five ways you can actually use your core values in the real world.
#1 – Use them as filters for decision making.
When you’re making a decision about a product, service or budget, pull out those core values and run your choice through them. When I was pastoring a church, our team was discussing an Easter outreach event. There were lots of ideas on the table, but the thing that brought us clarity was running the ideas through our core values. Because we valued bold moves, we decided to move the event offsite and plan for 2,000 rather than do it in our facility and plan for our own people.
Disney World is another example. They value safety and fun, in that order. So if a ride ever becomes unsafe, they will immediately shut it down, even if it means disappointing kids. Their clear core values inform their decision making.
#2 – Use them as a cover to say no.
Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean you should do it. In fact, if you chase every opportunity, you’ll lead your team straight into confusion and your organization right into mediocrity. When you put in the hard work of defining who you are, it gives you permission to pass on things that don’t reflect those values.
Clear core values give you the cover to say, “No…that’s not us…that doesn’t fit.”
#3 – They attract and repel people.
Strong core values should naturally attract the right people to your time. And likewise, they should repel people who are not a good fit. At Church Fuel, we’re okay NOT serving some customers because they aren’t a good fit with our values.
There’s incredible freedom that comes from saying, “You know…we’re probably not the right organization to serve you.” That kind of focus comes from living out properly defined core values. Those values should help you identify the kind of people to avoid.
#4 – They help you hire.
A lot of people will agree with your purpose. It’s probably broad and inspiring and important.
So just like your core values attract and repel the right and wrong customers, strong core values should help you attract and repel team members. It is your core values, even more than your purpose, that makes people fit. So when you’re interviewing people, talk extensively to them about those values and see if there is alignment.
#5 – They keep you from being all things to all people.
Knowing you who you are and who you are not will keep you from chasing unnecessary opportunities. After all, every opportunity is not an obligation. When you know you are, you can pass on an idea and leave it for someone else.
Focus is a good thing, and if you work hard, those properly defined core values will help you focus.
This article originally appeared here.