Company values not only shape the identity of your organisation, they act as a guiding light for your employees. So much so in fact, that one study of more than 1,000 firms in the Great Places to Work database revealed a strong correlation between financial performance and the degree to which employees believed their company’s values were being practiced.
Vague, meaningless or ill-conceived values can also cause problems for your company culture. That’s exactly what happened with Uber’s old set of core values, which included phrases like “Always be hustlin” and “toe-steppin”. Decided by former CEO, Travis Kalanick and senior executives, these values highlighted and exaggerated a disconnect between how management saw the company and the day-to-day experiences of employees, resulting in a toxic company culture.
Compare this with how Dara Khosrowshahi, the current Uber CEO, came up with a new set of core values, including things like “We do the right thing. Period.” and “We value ideas over hierarchy.” In order for these values to accurately reflect the goals and ambitions of Uber’s employees, Khosrowshahi asked for submissions and convened 20 working groups to refine them.
When company values are well-defined and true to the way an organisation does business, they can guide decision making across the organisation, set your company apart from the competition and make it easier to recruit people that will be a good organisational fit.
To show you what differentiates some of the best places to work in the world from everyone else, we’ve hand-picked some of their company values to give you a better idea of what they work.
- WE ARE ONE TEAM – Our great colleagues make the difference. It’s when we share our skills, knowledge and experience we become one team. Diversity makes us strong.
- ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT – The day we stop acting like entrepreneurs, we’ll be just another fashion company.
- STRAIGHTFORWARD AND OPEN-MINDED – We value diversity in people and ideas, as much as in personal style.
- COST-CONSCIOUS – Being cost-conscious is about keeping an eye on expenses and making smart, sustainable choices even in the small, everyday things.
- WARRIOR SPIRIT – Strive to be the best. Display a sense of urgency. Never give up.
- SERVANT’S HEART – Follow The Golden Rule. Treat others with respect. Embrace our Southwest Family.
- FUN-LUVING ATTITUDE – Be a passionate Team Player. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate successes
- WOW OUR CUSTOMERS – Deliver world-class Hospitality. Create memorable connections. Be famous for friendly service
- INTEGRITY – We believe that nothing is more important than our reputation, and behaving with the highest levels of integrity is fundamental to who we are.
- COMMITMENT TO EACH OTHER – We believe that our culture of borderless collegiality is a competitive advantage for us, and we go to great lengths to nurture it and preserve it.
- STRENGTH FROM CULTURAL DIVERSITY – We believe that working with people of different backgrounds, cultures, and thinking styles helps our people grow into better professionals and leaders.
- OUTSTANDING VALUES TO MARKETS & CLIENTS – We play a critical role in helping both the capital markets and our member firm clients operate more effectively. We consider this role a privilege, and we know it requires constant vigilance and unrelenting commitment.
- WE LEAD BY EXAMPLE – At all levels we act in a way that exemplifies what we expect of each other and our member firms’ clients.
- WE RESPECT THE INDIVIDUAL – We respect people for who they are and for their knowledge, skills and experience as individuals and team members.
- WE ARE COMMITTED TO OUR COMMUNITIES – We act as responsible corporate citizens by broadening our skills, experience and perspectives through work in our communities and protecting the environment.
- WE ARE OPEN AND HONEST IN OUR COMMUNICATION- We share information, insight and advice frequently and constructively and manage tough situations with courage and candor.
- BE A HOST – Care for others and make them feel like they belong. Encourage others to participate to their fullest/ Listen, communicate openly and set clear expectations.
- CHAMPION THE MISSION – Prioritise work that advances the mission and positively impacts the community. Build with the long-term in mind. Actively participate in the community and culture.
- BE A CEREAL ENTREPRENEUR – Be bold and apply original thinking. Imagine the ideal outcome. Be resourceful to make the outcome a reality
- EMBRACE THE ADVENTURE – Be curious, ask for help, and demonstrate an ability to grow. Own and learn from mistakes. Bring joy and optimism to work.
- WE SATISFY AND DELIGHT OUR CUSTOMERS – Our customers are the lifeblood of our business and our most important stakeholder. We strive to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping experience.
- WE PROMOTE TEAM MEMBER GROWTH AND HAPPINESS – Our success is dependent upon the collective energy, intelligence, and contributions of all of our Team Members.
- WE CARE ABOUT OUR COMMUNITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT – We serve and support a local experience. The unique character of each store is a direct reflection of a community’s people, culture, and cuisine.
- WE PRACTICE WIN-WIN PARTNERSHIPS WITH OUR SUPPLIERS – We view our trade partners as allies in serving our stakeholders. We treat them with respect, fairness and integrity – expecting the same in return.
- LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE – Our managers try to set a good example, and expect the same of IKEA co-workers.
- DARING TO BE DIFFERENT – We question old solutions and, if we have a better idea, we are willing to change.
- TOGETHERNESS AND ENTHUSIASM – Together, we have the power to solve seemingly unsolvable problems. We do it all the time.
- ACCEPT AND DELEGATE RESPONSIBLITY – We promote co-workers with potential and stimulate them to surpass their expectations. Sure, people make mistakes. But they learn from them!
- JUDGMENT – You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms. You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do. You are good at using data to inform your intuition.
- COURAGE – You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Netflix, even if it is uncomfortable. You are willing to be critical of the status quo. You question actions inconsistent with our values.
- SELFLESSNESS – You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than what is best for yourself or your group. You are open-minded in search of the best ideas. You make time to help colleagues.
- INCLUSION – You collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. You nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions. You intervene if someone else is being marginalised.
- DELIVER WOW THROUGH SERVICE – To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver. We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW.
- CREAT FUN AND A LITTLE WEIRDNESS – One way that we differ from other companies is that we’re not afraid to be a little weird. Weird certainly isn’t a bad thing – it can actually be fun! One of the reasons why our company culture is so successful is because our atmosphere is fun and employees are never afraid to be themselves.
- BE ADVENTUROUS, CREATIVE AND OPEN-MINDED – While you never want to be reckless, it’s important to take risks and embrace your creativity. You may end up making mistakes, but if you don’t make any mistakes, that only means that you haven’t taken any risks. We don’t want to be complacent and accept the status quo – we want to aim for more.
- BE HUMBLE – Lastly, while we’ve grown tremendously as a company, we’ve learned to take nothing for granted. There’s always challenges that lie ahead and nothing in life is a certainty. It’s important to stay humble, carry ourselves with a quiet confidence, and treat others the same way that we want to be treated.
- BE PASSIONATE – You’re here because of your unique talents and the fire in your belly to do something meaningful. It shines through in ways that raises the bar for all of us. Never stop growing.
- BE DECISIVE – Have a point of view based on data, experience, and instincts. Make the call and own the outcome. Speed matters, because the greatest risk is standing still.
- LEARN FAST – We’re in love with customer problems more than our solutions. We walk in our customers’ shoes and experiment our way to success. The only failure is the failure to learn fast.
- WIN TOGETHER – Small diverse teams drive our work and 90% of the decisions are made here. We accelerate each other in pursuit of our mission. We break down barriers. Together, we are one Intuit.
Company values aren’t just a collection of words that you think potential customers would like, they represent the essence of your business. One company that understands that is Airbnb. Founder and CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, highlights the importance of values in a speech that he gave at Stanford in 2014.
« There have to be like three, five, six things that are unique to you. »Brian Chesky CEO Airbnb
“Integrity, honesty—those aren’t core values,” explains Chesky. “Those are values that everyone should have. But there have to be like three, five, six things that are unique to you. And you can probably think about this in your life. What is different about you, that every single other person, if you could only tell them three or four things, you would want them to know about you.”
You wouldn’t be able to define your personal values using one-word descriptions, so why try and do it for an entire organisation? Values aren’t static either, so even if you’ve already got a set of company values, it’s worth going over them every now and again to make sure they are still an accurate reflection what your company and your people stand for.