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How to Define Your Firm's Core Values (and why it matters)

Core_Values.jpgIs your firm growing faster than you can keep up with? Are you looking to expand your team but concerned about preserving your culture?  Are you feeling like there’s no clear vision for where to focus your growth?  It’s time to define your firm’s core values!

Core values serve as the foundation of your company and should guide your hiring decisions, firing decisions, strategic direction and all things in between.  We defined our core values a few years back and life at Trumpet hasn’t been the same since.  Here’s how we did it.

The Journey

Trumpet had slowly over many years grew to a team of eight people.  Then almost overnight, we decided to really kick things into high gear and get serious about the growth of our business.  But like many companies primed for rapid growth, we had a healthy fear of growing too fast and losing our sense of identity.  We wanted to ensure we were all on the same page when it came to understanding what our business was about and the qualities we would look for in future teammates.

True to form we decided to make it a team effort and met off-site to brainstorm. Even though the team was relatively small at the time, we thought a fresh space would translate to fresh ideas.  Being in a different environment really helped to get us out of our day-to-day mindset and allowed us to think about our company from a new perspective.

We stuck giant post-it notes to the walls, picked up some markers, and took turns shouting out words or phrases that we thought reflected who we were as a company, who we were as individuals, and who we wanted to be.  We spent about two hours brainstorming then voted on the words we thought were the best reflection of Trumpet.

It was interesting to see themes emerge.

As we reviewed the list, we saw commonalities – integrity, honesty, and ‘doing the right thing’ became a theme.  Continuous improvement, constant learners and ‘always getting better’ became another.  In the end, we were able to funnel our list of words into eight key ideas.  For our team, this was a surprisingly easy and fun process which made us confident in our direction.

We took a two-week break to allow time for our thoughts to digest, then circled back around and turned each of those eight key ideas into intentional phrases that truly define who we are and what we are about – our core values:

  • We are empowered.
  • We set the bar high and create the “wow”.
  • We find harmony between work and play.
  • We’re always getting better.
  • We make it happen.
  • We care about others.
  • We do the right thing.
  • Our team is our other family.

Within each of these are descriptions like, “we make decisions without asking for permission” and “we look for ways to exceed expectations”.  These deeper descriptions make it easier to articulate our values and ensure that potential team members are a solid fit.

Why Core Values Matter

As our company expanded, we wanted a measurement of how we were performing. We use our core values as a measuring point for overall performance and to guide decisions in virtually all areas of our business.  It mattered to us because we knew we were creating a company that was bigger than ourselves. For us to succeed, we needed to all understand the end game.

As we continue to grow, we keep these core values top of mind.  We celebrate them daily, in both formal and informal ways.  They are literally plastered on our walls. They’re the starting point, the foundation, of every decision we make at Trumpet. That’s why it mattered to us.

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Author

Tia Geurts

Tia Geurts

Tia is our Director of Operations and Client Service. She came to Trumpet in 2006 and has loved every minute of her 10+ years here. Tia and Trumpet share a mutual love for helping people enjoy the way they work. She thrives on designing and improving internal processes and tools to help her team better serve our clients. Tia is "mostly" an Arizona native, a proud ASU Sun Devil and Green Bay Packer fan, and loves traveling, interior design, and poorly yet loudly singing every word to every song on the radio. Her husband Matt won her over by saying those 3 little words every woman loves to hear: "Go Pack Go". They live in the heart of Phoenix with her cat Stryker and their two dogs, Lacy and Jordy.

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