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When we think about values, what often comes to mind are our own personal values, the principles that shape and guide our lives. But core values matter in the context of your business, too. The values of your organization are what support your vision for your business and create its unique culture. They are also directly tied to your recruitment and retention strategies, and should guide your day-to-day business practices.

As a leader, I believe it is important to express your company’s values by living them and ensuring they are reinforced throughout your company, from day-to-day interactions to talent management to how you make business decisions.

LoyaltyOne articulated its values early on. Those values have since evolved to reflect our growth and evolution, and to incorporate new trends in the virtual and socially-minded workplace. Now, more than ever, I’ve come to see how important it is to create a values-based organization; I’ve seen the significant role values play in driving a company’s growth. Here are a few ways to create a set of values that resonate across your organization in a way that motivates people to do incredible work:

1. Speak to aspirations

Value statements should be a mix of things that are truly representative of your business today, as well as things you aspire toward and are on the road to developing.

For example, if you identify five values for your business, they should not all look to the future or be grounded in the present. Instead, mix and match business values that are truly representative of your company’s current culture with those that are aspirational and show the direction you intend to take your business.

A combination of present-day and forward-looking value statements give employees both a clear sense of where the company is today and where it is headed, which helps employees to identify characteristics that are important for them to be successful now and in the future.

2. Use provocative language

The language used in value statements often lacks creativity. Pushing out company values without really thinking about their impact makes them, more often than not, appear to be little more than “corporate speak.” When crafting your company values, I believe you have to first find ideas and concepts that genuinely reflect your culture, and then create statements that echo it.

If you want to create corporate values that reflect your organizational DNA, think of ways to demonstrate what the words you’re saying actually mean. For example, at LoyaltyOne one of our core values is “Wake up, be awesome—repeat!” It’s meant to spark passion for the business among our employees, and as a statement it’s much more memorable and expressive than simply saying “we’re passionate.” It encourages employees to be energetic and to bring their whole self to LoyaltyOne.

3. Apply values to employee performance

While it is extremely important for leaders to “walk the talk” in terms of company values, it is equally important for leaders to make sure their values come to life in how they evaluate, measure and reward people. Sometimes businesses can have an employee whose results may be strong, but whose approach to work does not align with the values of the organization.

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Bottom line: Core values should be a true reflection of your company—now and into the future—and both leaders and employees need to walk the talk by living up to the values of the organization. I believe values, at their core, should grow, change and evolve—just as organizations do.

Bryan Pearson is an internationally-recognized expert and author in the field of customer loyalty. As President and CEO of LoyaltyOne, a pioneer in loyalty strategies and data-driven marketing, Bryan has spent more than two decades developing meaningful customer relationships for some of the world’s leading companies. Bryan has spearheaded LoyaltyOne’s expansion into new markets across the globe and has grown the AIR MILES Rewards Program into Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program with more than 10 million participants.

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What are your company’s core values, and how do you make them stick? Let us know by commenting below.

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