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Core values: The key ingredient of Zappos, Google and Southwest Airlines

What do Zappos, Google and Southwest Airlines have in common? Simple. A set of core values they’ve obsessed over, which have created a rock solid business culture.

Zappos has one of the most famous cultures on the planet right now, as does Google and Southwest Airlines. Here in Australia, RedBalloon and E-web Marketing are among the leading workplace cultures, according to the Great Places to Work Institute. All of these businesses have something in common: a culture based upon a set of core values.

Core values are the three to five behaviours that define a company culture. The way those values are lived everyday is what builds a strong culture. In fact, it doesn’t even matter what the values are, as long as you have core values and obsess over them, you will build a strong culture.

Now, I know there are organisations with core values that don’t have a strong culture. The reason is that in these businesses, no one even knows what the values are. Often they’re crap values created and then left to decay in a boring company profile somewhere. What a waste!

Core values should be included in everything, as that’s how these famous cultures are created. From selection, to recognition and reward, on your website, in your newsletter, in your training programs – almost everything ‘people’ related should include your values. Even your vision needs to include your values – after all, how can you get to the future without a guide on how to do it?

Obsessing over our four core values has helped build The Physio Co (the 12th Best Place to Work in Australia) into an organisation that will live and grow well in to the future. Paying attention to your values is paying attention to the future because a strong workplace culture will attract and retain the best people, the best customers and the best results.

Need more proof?  For more than 20 years, Southwest Airlines has consistently been one of the America’s best places to work. It has been profitable through the toughest of tough times in the airline industry. It’s been so successful that Harvard has written a case study on their ground-breaking approach

If you want to build a strong workplace culture, discover your core values and include them in everything. It will be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.

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