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Create and develop organizational values that enhance company culture

There are many ways to drive employee productivity. One way is to create organizational values. 

There are many ways to drive employee productivity. One way is to create organizational values. In this guide, you’ll gain in-depth knowledge as to what these values are, how to develop your own set of organizational values, and how you can use them to enhance your business.

What are organizational values?

Organizational values are a set of values or beliefs that define what an organization is and what they want to achieve. For example, many businesses have “integrity” or “innovation” as organizational values.

Organizational values give employees, customers, and other stakeholders a clear understanding of how an organization wants to conduct themselves. When cultivated properly, organizational values play an important role in how both employees and the business as a whole act on a day-to-day basis. 

So how do you create organizational values that will inspire your employees to work at max capacity? The answer may lie in your company’s H.E.A.R.T. (History, Energy, Action, Reminders, Talent optimization)

History: Start with your mission statement and core values.

“Mission-driven” organizations report 30 percent more innovation and 40 percent higher employee engagement, according to Deloitte. For non-profit organizations, strong values can be the difference between getting funding and going broke.

But before you dive in to write your core values, take a step back. Think about why your company exists in the first place.

What makes a good mission statement?

A good mission statement has three things going for it: clarity, social responsibility, and authenticity.

  • Clarity: Tie your organization’s product or service back to your mission statement. There should be no confusion as to what your company truly cares about.
  • Social responsibility: According to Deloitte, two-thirds of millennials chose their employer because it seemed “mission-driven.” A great mission statement can attract like-minded people.
  • Authenticity: Customers and employees can see through the corporate culture fluff. Work to achieve your organizational mission every day. In other words, walk the walk.

What are some examples of good mission statements?

Many of the companies that form the cornerstone of the economy have clear mission statements that go beyond profitability:

  • Google: “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
  • Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
  • Facebook: “Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

Quick tip: If you need help creating organizational values, download our vision and mission statement template.

With your mission statement clear, decide which organizational values will shape the culture you desire.

What’s the difference between a mission statement and organizational values?

While both the company mission statement and values statements are equally important, they are slightly different.

The mission statement confirms the company’s primary purpose: What it does, who it serves, and what it’s trying to achieve. On the other hand, the values statement defines what the company stands for, what it believes in, and its central core principles and ethics.

In the next section, we’ll cover common strategic goals and values that help achieve them. Then, you can begin to construct your company values statement around these.

Energy: Organizational values dictate desired behaviors.

Your mission statement articulates your company’s purpose. Your organizational values dictate the behaviors employees must exhibit to reach your business goals. Values are the roadmap that everyone should follow.

Your values need to align with your business strategy. If you’re launching a new market category, you need people with lots of energy. To build a culture of smart risk-taking, create a set of core values around action and drive

Effective organizational values are less about originality and more about authenticity. Start inward. Think about what values matter to you and the rest of the executive team. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Creating a quality product? Providing exceptional customer service? Using creativity to make a difference in the world?

Another place to get inspiration is your star performers. What behaviors and attitudes do they exhibit that makes them so impactful? Do they demonstrate accountability? Do they show exceptional leadership even during hard times?

What should I consider when selecting my organizational values?

  • Degree of hierarchy: Is your company structured with many layers to maintain accuracy and precision? Or is it flat to enable innovation? Different organizational structures call for different organizational values. 
  • Degree of urgency: Do you need to push out projects quickly? React to a constantly changing marketplace? Or is there less need for urgency? Will you benefit from quality over efficiency? Finally, should people ask permission before starting projects or feel empowered to make quick decisions?
  • People or task orientation: Do you put more value in enabling the people in your organizations to drive the company’s performance? Or do you focus on tasks, believing that efficiency and process drive success? For example, is work-life balance more important, or results?
  • Functional orientation: What functional area of your company do you put an emphasis on? For example, an innovative company may have a core value focused on R&D.

How do I create organizational values?

Creating your core company values doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few guidance points to get you started in creating your own organizational values:

1. Assess the existing corporate culture.

Think about the values or the message the company is currently displaying. Do your employees’ actions reflect your existing company values? Or do the two diverge? Even the best values can’t help your business if your employees aren’t aligning with them.

It can be helpful to get opinions from others at this stage. So, ask vendors, business partners, and staff: Which values are we projecting? Which values are most important? And which values are we forgetting altogether?

2. Start your strategic planning now.

Whether you’re a completely new organization or just re-defining your organizational values, you need to have a clear vision of your goals in one, three, or five years. After all, your values should reflect your goals. Otherwise, your values might hurt your initiatives instead of helping.

3. Shape or re-shape your values.

If you feel your corporate values aren’t quite right after looking at your existing culture and strategic plan, then it’s time to do some adjusting. Review your plan and determine what new core values are needed to achieve your goals.

Quick tip: if you’re looking for a template filled with examples of core values to give you a head start, download our organizational values swipe file.

At PI we call our organizational values THREADS (teamwork, honesty, reliability, energy, action, drive, and scope).

4. Define and incorporate your values.

Once you’re sure which values are most important in achieving your company’s mission, it’s time to start defining and implementing them. In the next section, we’ll cover how to accomplish that.

Action: Organizational values need to be lived.

Values are little more than words if they’re not enshrined in what your company does. After you’ve chosen your organizational values, put them into action; let them guide business decision-making. What this step really boils down to is people.

If you’re encouraging leadership at all levels, don’t just rely on the pre-existing leadership team. Instead, encourage more junior team members to insert their opinion without the fear of negative repercussions. Encourage individual contributors to manage up and across.

If your organization decides it’s going to value learning, then it better be ready to invest in people in some pretty visible ways. For example, offer tuition reimbursement and bring experts on-site regularly for professional development.

Reward employees who exhibit organizational values to motivate others to follow suit.

For example, HubSpot’s corporate culture includes “taking ownership.” And they take action on this with their J.E.D.I. (Just Effing Does It) AWARD, which goes to an individual or team that drove an important project forward and got great results.

At PI, we reward above-and-beyond performance in special ways. When our car-loving IT support specialist showed teamwork and energy by going above and beyond to help us move offices, we rented him a Lamborghini for the day!

Organizational values must be rewarded

Finally, senior leaders must embrace your organizational values. After all, every employee will look to them to lead by example.

Display your organizational values proudly.

Your core values need to be visible and communicated often. It’s no good if they’re only brought up in all-company meetings. 

Start talking about your values during the hiring process. Share them with new hires in written onboarding materials.

Another easy thing you can do is frame your company’s values and hang them on the wall for employees and visitors to see. Try to be creative with this. Maybe commission a neon sign of your organization’s values.

You can also set up systems, like a designated Slack channel, where both senior leaders and individual contributors can shout out those who embody your organizational values.

List your core values and mission statement on your company’s website. Broadcast them on social media and encourage your followers to tell you what a given value means to them. Make sure they’re referenced on your company Glassdoor page.

At PI, we proudly display our THREADS on television screens throughout the office, on powerpoints at company meetings, and we even have a Slack channel (#teamthreads) where we can recognize others for selflessly showcasing an organizational value.

Our Slack channel for organizational values

However you do it, the point is that you should showcase your company’s culture whenever possible.

Talent optimization: Organizational values help you determine candidate culture fit.

Another activity of talent optimization is “Determine candidate cultural fit.” When you’re crystal clear on your organizational values, communicating your culture to potential employees becomes easier.

Top companies have some of the most ironclad hiring strategies—and that’s because they put the organization’s culture at the forefront of hiring decisions.

Taking a talent optimization approach, your hiring team must communicate organizational culture to all candidates during the selection process so both sides can determine fit. We recommend appointing one person to the interview team whose sole purpose is to screen candidates using a set of specific interview questions to screen for culture fit.

Why is this such a critical step?

One of the four forces of disengagement is lack of fit between employee and company culture. On the other hand, employees who strongly identify with the company’s culture and values work harder, put in more discretionary effort, and stick around longer.

Recently, we sat down with PI Board Member Kirk Arnold to talk about creating core values. Here’s what she had to say:

Teach others how to create organizational values.

Our mission at PI is “Better work, better world.” Part of making that vision a reality is sharing knowledge with other leaders who seek to improve their organization. So if you’ve created core values that help you drive success—or if you have any tips on how to create organizational values—please share them in the comments!

Join 10,000 companies solving the most complex people problems with PI.

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Final thoughts on organizational values

Developing and adhering to clear organizational values benefits every part of a business. Firstly, it increases productivity by creating a structure for both business partners and employees to follow. Secondly, it improves hiring and turnover by defining the kind of work environment and personal values the company needs from employees. Finally, it boosts customer satisfaction by letting your clients know what the company stands for.

Organizational values are easy to overthink. But often, they’re worth overthinking. By nailing your organizational values from the start, you can develop a great employer-employee experience and achieve your strategic goals.


Connor is the video producer at PI. He composed and directed an original musical.

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