Your Company’s Core Values Should Drive Your Choice in Staff

Are you looking for a new job? Do you want to join a “professional” family where both your personality and skill are valued? Or are you an employer, who is still looking to get the right person on the bus and sitting in the right seat?

Internationally, assessing a person’s core values when hiring is widely used. In New Zealand, we are finally cottoning on to the practice.

“In any business, it’s essential to have a team where everyone lives effortlessly by your values,” says internationally certified business and executive coach Leigh Paulden. “Core values are all about people and how they conduct themselves.”

Leigh Paulden is the only senior certified Gravitas Impact premium business coach in New Zealand. Based in Auckland and Christchurch, he works with mid-market companies that are serious about sustainable business growth.

What are core values?

“Your core values are your essential and enduring beliefs. They are a handful of rules within a business, which are clearly defined, and your team live by regularly. It’s what your people should and shouldn’t do,” Paulden says.

When an entire team is clear about the core values, it improves the culture within the business, and it’s easier to move the organisation from good to great.

“When you hire people that fit, who have the same core values and are aligned to where you are going, a huge amount of the ‘people issues’ disappear.”

Using core values when hiring

When an organisation is in the process of hiring staff, its core business values should be visible to applicants.

“The questions an organisation asks right at the front of the interview process should be questions to drag out a person’s core values. Always design your interview questions and assessments to test a candidate’s alignment with your core values. Then rate the person in terms of their perceived alignment with each core value.

“If an applicant’s values do not align with your company’s, stop. They are not going to fit in your organisation and will cost you time and money.”

Core values help manage performance expectations of all employees, including new staff who may become acquainted with core values as part of their induction process.

“Clarify the behaviours that everyone is expected to uphold at work. Provide a framework for decision-making and agreements about how people are expected to interact with each other.

“I often see companies share core values that define who they want to be, but then live quite differently. This will turn off team members and create a gap of credibility between leadership and team members.

“It is also obvious to clients, suppliers and can create the wrong perception or a distrust of your company, damaging your ability to grow … and potentially your reputation.”

In order for a core value to stand, it must withstand some important criteria and tests.

The three simple tests of a core value:

  • Would you fire a team member who consistently or blatantly violated one of your core values?
  • Would your company be willing to take a financial hit (lose money) in order to maintain the integrity of a core value?
  • Is this core value alive among your team today? Can you identify the name of a team member who is living out the core values?

Core values should not be kept a secret; they should be visible to employees (and potential employees), customers, partners, etc.

Sharing core values internally and externally in a visible way manages expectations of everyone in how work will be accomplished.

Article originally published in The New Zealand Herald, March 2014.

Leigh Paulden

Leigh Paulden

"I bring my clients executive education that has been internationally tested and proven to drive business performance. I understand the factors that influence growth and business practice and create the clarity and certainty you need to make great decisions for success."

Leigh Paulden is an internationally certified business consultant working alongside New Zealand businesses serious about growth.