In the previous blog post we discussed the formula to find the culture of an organization:
Foundation + Pillars = Culture
Putting aside the Pillars part of this equation, which we will discuss in later blog topics, let’s take a deeper look at what we mean by the organization’s “foundation.”
The Initial Set of Core Values
When an organization is founded by one person, or a partnership, or even a small group of people, it adopts the core values that one person holds or that this close group of people share. This process is only natural.
When people start businesses from the ground up, they are pouring their heart and soul—blood, sweat, and tears—into their work. Every piece of what’s important to them, what drives them, and what they value is instilled in their new organization. Why shouldn’t their work reflect what’s important to them? Identifying these values and traits that have been built into the very foundation of the organization.
What starts to happen as the organization begins to grow and that cornerstone needs to be built upon?
Building Upon Core Values
As an organization grows it’s natural for those core values and traits that were once so clear start to become a little…murky. This is inevitable because an organization typically doesn’t grow overnight. You add more team members as needed, identifying capacity and growing in a way that’s smart for the company. Adding team members at a moderate rate will give you a strange period in which you have new members of a small team that will start to instill their own values into the organization rather than simply adopting the original ones. In a smaller group, this is bound to happen. What’s important in this phase is to clearly begin to establish those core values.
How Do You Find Your Core Values?
During this period, it’s essential to take time for internal meetings about the alignment and vision of the organization. Of course, you should be working on a strategic plan for growth, but it’s just as important to be focusing and establishing the culture. To do this, it’s helpful to go through discussions of each leader’s core values. At Nexecute, we have special exercises to help our clients and partners discover their own core values. These exercises will allow open and easy communication in a way that is both fun and engaging. But often a simple, frank conversation will suffice.
During this conversation, consider asking each other these questions:
- When first creating this organization, what did we set out to achieve?
- How are we doing/how is our progress?
- How do you think we got there?
- Based on our conversation from #3, what key values brought us here?
These questions will bring forth conversations that will inevitably discuss people’s core values and in so doing, find what’s important to them and how their culture should reflect this.
Let’s Look at an Example…
Using a totally made-up organization, let’s answer some of these questions so you can see what we mean by discussing core values:
- When first creating this organization, what did we set out to achieve? We set out to become the Great Lake’s number one t-shirt graphic manufacturer for small to medium sized businesses and nonprofit organizations.
- Where are we on that path? We are the leader in Michigan and Ohio t-shirt apparel, but have not broken into New York, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois markets.
- How do you think we got there? By providing quick turnaround on tight deadlines, with accuracy and attention to detail on the graphics provided to us by clients. By striving to optimize production by listening internally to team members and refining our sales process based off that feedback. By creating a fun environment with team members that want to help grow the company.
- Based on our conversation from #3, what key values brought us here? Speed, accuracy, open communication, fun…
Hopefully this will give you an idea of the conversation on discovering those core values that have brought your organization to its current status, and that will help propel your organization to reach its goals. Core values create culture, so it’s incredibly important to figure out what they are.
In our next blog post in the Culture Series, we will discuss how results and accountability impact culture. If you want to cultivate your culture ASAP, contact Nexecute now to get started.
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