From the Desk of Paul:

Your company’s core values will become the basis for your company’s culture.  Once the core values are established, you can arm yourself with questions that will give you insight during an employment interview as to whether or not the candidate is really aligned with the core values you have identified.  Allowing you to more easily identify potential employees who truly align with your company’s core values will further solidify those values when you make those candidates a permanent part of your team.  When your employees are aligned with the company’s core values, then there are fewer personnel issues, productivity challenges and staff is more engaged and get greater job satisfaction, which are all great things!

Now that your company has identified the core values, you must not only use those core values to make hiring decisions, but you must also use those core values to either coach your staff up or move them out.  Your employee evaluation process should be designed such that you can easily communicate to the employee how he or she measures up to each core value; but before you do that, do this first!  Walk your employee through each core value and ask him or her, “How do you think you measure up with this core value?” If he or she responds with very short answers, such as “pretty good”, follow up with this question, “How do you mean?”  The idea is to really get the employee to consider the core value and sincerely reflect on what it means to them and verbalize how their typical behavior compares with each core value.  This will help to reduce the likelihood of a defensive attitude which will make the evaluation conversation more productive and worthwhile.  It also requires that the employee give some serious consideration to the core values and sends the message that the values are not just marketing slogans but they are to become the very fabric of the organization as a whole.

As you evaluate the employee on each core value, it may be helpful to systemize this part of the evaluation, give examples and ask for agreement.  This keeps the evaluation objective, qualifies the objectivity, and gives the employee a voice, and therefor buy-in, to the evaluation process.  Some organizations use a “plus or minus” or a numbers-based rating system to rate alignment for each core value.  A “+” on the core value might imply that the employee is almost always or always aligned with the core value, whereas a “- “, would imply almost never or never.  Between those might be a “+/-“, which would indicate sometimes aligned.  In the numbers-based system, you might rate the level of alignment based on the number, such as on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being always aligned and 1 being never aligned.  What’s most important is consistency in the evaluation process.  While the core values portion of the evaluation may not be the entire evaluation, I think it should be the most important if you want to be intentional about creating the right company culture.  Most of all, the same standards must be used for all employees, including the evaluators.  If the employees feel that there is a lower standard for managers and owners, they won’t take the core values seriously.  Managers and owners should make every effort to demonstrate in their actions what true alignment with the core values looks like.

Based on the results of the evaluation, as an owner or leader you must be willing to coach employees to perform within a reasonable level of alignment with the core values or encourage them to seek other employment.  Employees should definitely be given the opportunity to improve while also being made to understand, without a reasonable level of alignment, then the employment agreement may be terminated.  The hardest part may be sticking to that.  Be honest with yourself and don’t allow the challenges that come with a vacant position to be the reason you choose not to move someone out who doesn’t fit the core values.  For whatever challenges it creates, it is always worth it when you fill the vacant spot with someone whom you know is a good core value fit.

Next month I will touch on the third point of “Hiring for Values” which details the interviewing process.  As always, if you have questions or comments that you would like for me to address, please contact me at

Paul Meadows,