Core Values and behaviours: (Part 2 is here )

What do you know about core values and behaviours? Does your charity have them, does it use them as a foundation for its ? Or perhaps you dont have any or you don’t  know what core values and behaviours  are for. You are running an organisation: a to medium charity or not for profit CIO, maybe a medium sized enterprise and despite the best will in the you are lurching from one firefight to the next. You are successful in many ways, but staff don’t stay, stability is never quite there. If you asked someone at the lower end of the hierarchy what your organisation was, or, what it stood for would they all have a slightly different answer, or no answer at all? Even worse would they say words like we stand for caring, transparency without fully understanding what that meant as a value or in fact a behaviour?

Values you say, of we have values…’ hard play hard’, ‘take responsibility’, ‘just get on with it’. But these aren’t values, they are ‘vibes’ they are a kind of feel for the place but they don’t truly influence behaviour.

Core Values and behaviours are your principles or beliefs

They are your principles your beliefs or philosophy of values, and come what may they last, somes forever. A fantastic example of this is the Judo moral code, ensined by Jigaro Kano in 1882 for the new sport of Judo.

Courtesy To be polite to others

Courage To face difficulties with bravery

Honesty To be sincere with your thoughts and actions

Honour To do what is right and stand by your principles

Modesty To be without ego in your actions and thoughts

Respect To appreciate others

Self Control To be in control of your emotions

Friendship To be a good companion and friend

Note they are not just a word, but what that word means.


·      Core Values and Behaviours help us in the process of decisions.

For example, if one of our core values and behaviours is to stand behind the quality of our services, any service or part of a service not reaching the satisfactory standard must be automatically reviewed.

·      Core Values and Behaviours educate service users, clients, customers and the public

To what your organisation is all about is about and clarify your identity. Having a set of specific Values and Behaviours that speak to the public is a priority. Somes one of these values can become your byline, think of ‘never knowingly undersold’

·      Core Values and Behaviours are becoming major recruiting and retention tools.

Remember, job seekers evaluate as well, they examine what goes on in the companies they are applying for (think of what does here with its reviews) and then they out whether or not you have the values that they think are important…well they do that if you have a set of values and behaviours for them to understand. Otherwise they float on in and then float on out again.

Yes but I don’t have you say I’m busy, I can formulate all that…you don’t have to. Your staff will do it for you. And if they, and you, get it right remember core values and behaviours are less and do not change; they are sustainable in the longer term, that Judo code is over 100 years old.

So how do I find of what the behaviours and values are for my organisation and set them up. Well lets start by what you don’t want to do, that is pluck them out of thin air because you think they sound cool. There is not a one size fits all here, this is not process or best practice. Get this right and you will always recruit the right people and keep them. You can even have the same values as a competitor, as long as they are authentic and you came about them in the right way.

So what do we do, what’s next? Well, you need a group of maybe 6 or 7 people, not just senior managers, but high performers from all levels of your organisation, maybe people who have stuck and know you well. People you hope understand your organisation instinctively. You can’t programme people with these Values and behaviours. You have to ask them together to list what they think are the core values and behaviours of the company.

Then the group must answer some basic questions about the values they have come up with. This is what Jim Collins calls the Mars Group.

Core Values and behaviours matter values and behaviours - Values and Behavior 300x185 - Core Values and Behaviours – Part 1

The basic questions

·      Is what they have written down a value and behaviour of the organisation, whether or not it gets written down or put on a list or not?

·     You won the lottery, you leave the organisation, are these values and behaviours that matter outside of too? (look at that Judo Code to get an idea here)

·      100 years from now everything has changed, tech, actions, hair cuts, but do you imagine the list would still matter?

·      How important are these values, what would you give up for them If they because of economics put your company at a disadvantage would you still want them to be the companies behaviour and values (think miracle on 34th street here)

·     Your individual success allows you to leave and set up on your own, which of these Values would you take with you for your new startup?

The importance of these questions is just as core values and behaviours are not vibes they are also not strategies, to be discarded along the way. These are fixed and you start to have the identity of the organisation.

In follow up article I will offer you some standard values that come up in these exercises and then ways to continue to communicate your values and ensure behaviours match them on an ongoing basis. The last thing we want here is a ‘WORN‘ document (Written Once, Read Never) Your Values and Behaviours are not just to put up on the wall, but must actively and openly be part every aspect of your organisation.

Think of this on the 80:20 or iceberg principle, whether its your company, customer, candidate, a member of staff or your values, if you are only displaying 20% and 80% is submerged and unused or unacknowledged you are performing  you, your customers, your staff and your organisation a disservice. That quietly hidden 80% needs to be seen for what it does keep the 20% above the water line anchored, balanced focussed, valued and feeling in on and part of the greater whole.

Use our Q&A forums if you’d like to talk about your charity, and get assistance in building a frame of core values and behaviours with your senior team.

Lets get on it. The next article gives some examples and the final article shows how to implement your own core values and behaviours.

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