What does your company stand for? What are the attitudes or beliefs customers should perceive when they encounter you and by extension, your brand?
If you were to poll all of the companies within a ten-mile radius of your office, chances are more than two thirds would say they have a handful of core values. It’s likely you’ll find these values, framed or stamped in aluminum, on display in a conference room or atrium. The leaders at those businesses might even be able to rattle them off from memory. But do they live by those values?
Few companies use values as a framework for performance reviews. Even fewer use them as guiding principles in strategic planning or team meetings.
Many people deride core values as being impractical, quotidian, or insubstantial. A waste of time and space, some say.
I disagree. If your company’s values are actually based on the principles of your best teammates, and if they’re properly embedded in your culture, they can be powerful. By putting core values into practice, employee turnover will go down. Solid teammates will stay longer. Productivity will increase. Your business will become healthier in every way – including profit margins.
If our core values aren’t doing anything for us, then perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror.
We’ve seen the power of values at work in Parisleaf’s clients. CT Mechanical, Walker Architects, PDSI, and Pure Aesthetics are just a few examples from recent years. And you see the value of values in other brands as well. Airbnb. Ritz Carlton. Southwest Airlines. Zappos. All of those businesses have thriving cultures, due in large part to thoughtful development and diligent practice of core values.
When we deliver a brand strategy to a client, core values or some other statement of belief is nearly always part of the package. We owe it to clients and ourselves to practice what we preach.
When we took ourselves through the rebranding process in 2017–18, we identified five values that shape our behavior at Parisleaf: gratitude, responsibility, integrity, candor, and excellence. We use the acronym G-RICE for easy recall.
As anyone here can tell you, putting these values to work has been transformative for our small and mighty team.
Gratitude Grown from Mindfulness
We practice mindful appreciation. Gratitude builds joy, and joy cultivates hope and generosity. We enjoy our work without caring too much. We show up and give our best every day, and we give it abundantly.
Responsibility Shaped by Empathy
We practice compassion and ownership. We are responsible not only for ourselves but for each other and the earth as well. We learn from our mistakes. We bring curiosity to each problem and design simple solutions.
Integrity Rooted in Ethics
We practice harmony of word and deed. We seek wholeness and unity in our work and our relationships. We discern the form and voice that mirrors a brand’s truth. We do the right thing when no one is looking. We remain true to ourselves.
Candor Led by Love
We practice openness, honesty, and clarity. We say what we mean and mean what we say. We tell the truth, even when it hurts – but we tell it with kindness, levity, and respect.
Excellence Earned by Dedication
We practice our craft. We can’t be perfect, but we can perfect. We pursue learning at every opportunity. We are bent on making useful, delightful things. We strive to make it beautiful, make it effective, make it well.
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Each January, we identify a single value to lean into for the year ahead. In 2020, it’s Excellence. Refining the foundation we’ve built, perfecting our chops, pruning the habits and mindsets that hold us back. Always, always practicing.
What about you? Can you recite your company’s values from memory? Do you know what they mean? If so, how have you embedded them in the culture? I’d love to hear what’s worked or not worked for you. Send me a note at matt [at] parisleaf.com, or ping us on Twitter.