This month we’ll be exploring the first section of the PSE One Page, the People Section.
The People section defines who the Right People are to be working at your company. It consists of Core Values, Core Purpose, and Core Competence. The Right People for your organization will share those Core Values, get excited by your Core Purpose, and be able to contribute to your Core Competence.
Core Values are the DNA of your company. They make you who you are. They set you apart from your competitors.
Core Values help align behavior so that everyone knows how they are expected to act and interact with others and with customers. They act as a guide to how you want things done at your company. They are the handful of rules defining your culture, which are reinforced through your people systems on daily basis. You have to have these Core Values defined in order to know who the Right People are to be working at your company.
If you don’t already have your Core Values defined, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that they already exist at your company. The bad news is that you have to uncover them.
One way to uncover them is through an exercise called Mission to Mars. The concept is simple. You ask your leadership team to write down a list of employees that they each think embody your company’s values extremely well. So well that you could send them to Mars and Martians would be able to observe them and know what your Core Values are. Simply because those employees live and breathe your values day in and day out.
From there you list out the traits that each of those employees have that made you pick them. This list of traits becomes the list from which you’ll find your Core Values. You will need to narrow that list down to the 3-7 values that resonate with you the most.
Before you can finalize this list though, you need to make sure that they are not pay-to-play, aspirational, or accidental Core Values.
Pay-to-play: Meaning this is just a baseline value, every company follows it. Like Integrity. Unless you can say that you go completely above and beyond, that you have more integrity than any other company, this is just a basic requirement to do business.
Aspirational: Meaning it sounds nice on paper, but you don’t actually exhibit this value in your day-to-day, yet. Maybe one day, but not today. Nothing will kill your Core Values’ credibility faster than trying to convince your employees you hold a Core Value that you don’t.
Accidental: Meaning it was created on accident. It simply appeared based on your current leaders and employees. These can be good values, but more often than not they are detrimental.
So you’ve got your 3-7 Core Values defined. Now what?
Now you need to take it one step further. You want to make sure that you’re not just picking words that sound good. You have to make sure they have meaning behind them and actually impact the way that your company works. So you need to define exactly what each of these words means to you as an organization. Get clarity on what each of the Core Values stands for.
You have to further bring these values to life until you have definitions that everyone at your company can understand. You want to make sure there is absolute clarity about what each of these Core Values means. Give examples of them in action. Give examples of them not being followed. Tell stories about them. Write unique definitions. Come up with phrases that exemplify them. Whatever you can do to reinforce them.
And even then, there’s one more step.
That is the Core Values test. Do each of your Core Values pass the test?
- Is this value demonstrated today?
- Would you hold this value even if it put you at a disadvantage?
- Are you willing to hire and fire by this value?
- Will this value still be core in 10, 20, 30 years?
If all your values can pass this test then you know you’re getting to the core.
Next up is Core Purpose. This is why you do what you do. Why what you do matters. Generally, it’s bigger than just to make a profit. It’s your perpetual mission in the world that is guiding and inspiring, both you and your company. It gives everyone at your company something to believe in, to unify around, and to strive to achieve. Your Core Purpose should be inspiring, but relatable. It should give everyone a line of sight as to why what they do matters.
Lastly, you have Core Competence. If your Core Purpose is why you exist, your Core Competence is what you do with that existence.
What do you do better than any other company? It’s similar to Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept. What can you be best at in the world? It serves to focus your efforts and to keep you in your wheelhouse by staying within your Core Competence. It helps keep you away from shiny objects that distract you and split your focus. By focusing on your Core Competence you can stay intentional and organized. Your Core Competence will serve as strategic guardrails to keep you on the path to success.
Defining these three areas will have a two-fold impact on your company.
First, it will improve your hiring decisions. By defining who the Right People are to be working at your company and then only hiring people that fit that description, you will greatly increase the number of successful hires you make.
And second, you will see an improvement in your company culture overall. People who are not the right fit for your company are drains in more ways than one. They often drain morale, productivity, and attention. By taking the time to weed out Wrong People from your company, you’ll see an exponential return in terms of the strength of your culture.