Eric Jacobson

How To Write Your Company’s Core Values

In Customer Service, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Management, Motivating Employees, Team Building on October 31, 2010 at 10:10 am

Walk into any Whole Foods grocery store and you’ll see that company’s core values proudly presented on a large sign.

Business leaders can learn a lot from the chain’s core values:

  1. Its values are what are truly important to Whole Foods.
  2. The values remain constant and don’t change from time to time, situation to situation or person to person.
  3. The values clearly set the company’s culture.  As Whole Foods explains, their core values are the “soul” of its company.
  4. The values address the company’s product, customers, vendors, and the communities in which it operates.

Note, too, how for each of the company’s six core values, it further explains what that core value statement means.  Without these additional explanations, the values could be no more than just words on paper.

As you craft your company’s core values, carefully study the approach and language used for Whole Food’s below:

1.  Selling the Highest Quality Natural and Organic Products Available

Passion For Food–We appreciate and celebrate the difference natural and organic products can make in the quality of one’s life.

Quality Standards–We have high standards and our goal is to sell the highest quality products we possibly can. We define quality by evaluating the ingredients, freshness, safety, taste, nutritive value and appearance of all of the products we carry. We are buying agents for our customers and not the selling agents for the manufacturers.

2.  Satisfying and Delighting Our Customers

Our Customers–They are our most important stakeholders in our business and the lifeblood of our business. Only by satisfying our customers first do we have the opportunity to satisfy the needs of our other stakeholders.

Extraordinary Customer Service–We go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy and delight our customers. We want to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping trip. We know that by doing so we turn customers into advocates for our business. Advocates do more than shop with us, they talk about Whole Foods to their friends and others. We want to serve our customers competently, efficiently, knowledgeably and with flair.

Education–We can generate greater appreciation and loyalty from all of our stakeholders by educating them about natural and organic foods, health, nutrition and the environment.

Meaningful Value–We offer value to our customers by providing them with high quality products, extraordinary service and a competitive price. We are constantly challenged to improve the value proposition to our customers.

Retail Innovation–We value retail experiments. Friendly competition within the company helps us to continually improve our stores. We constantly innovate and raise our retail standards and are not afraid to try new ideas and concepts.

Inviting Store Environments–We create store environments that are inviting and fun, and reflect the communities they serve. We want our stores to become community meeting places where our customers meet their friends and make new ones.

3.  Supporting Team Member Excellence and Happiness

Empowering Work Environments–Our success is dependent upon the collective energy and intelligence of all of our Team Members. We strive to create a work environment where motivated Team Members can flourish and succeed to their highest potential. We appreciate effort and reward results.

Self-Responsibility–We take responsibility for our own success and failures. We celebrate success and see failures as opportunities for growth. We recognize that we are responsible for our own happiness and success.

Self-Directed Teams–The fundamental work unit of the company is the self-directed Team. Teams meet regularly to discuss issues, solve problems and appreciate each others’ contributions. Every Team Member belongs to a Team.

Open & Timely Information–We believe knowledge is power and we support our Team Members’ right to access information that impacts their jobs. Our books are open to our Team Members, including our annual individual compensation report. We also recognize everyone’s right to be listened to and heard regardless of their point of view.

Incremental Progress–Our company continually improves through unleashing the collective creativity and intelligence of all of our Team Members. We recognize that everyone has a contribution to make. We keep getting better at what we do.

Shared Fate–We recognize there is a community of interest among all of our stakeholders. There are no entitlements; we share together in our collective fate. To that end we have a salary cap that limits the compensation (wages plus profit incentive bonuses) of any Team Member to nineteen times the average total compensation of all full-time Team Members in the company.

4.  Creating Wealth Through Profits & Growth

Stewardship–We are stewards of our shareholders’ investments and we take that responsibility very seriously. We are committed to increasing long term shareholder value.

Profits–We earn our profits every day through voluntary exchange with our customers. We recognize that profits are essential to creating capital for growth, prosperity, opportunity, job satisfaction and job security.

5.  Caring About Our Communities & Our Environment

Sustainable Agriculture–We support organic farmers, growers and the environment through our commitment to sustainable agriculture and by expanding the market for organic products.

Wise Environmental Practices–We respect our environment and recycle, reuse, and reduce our waste wherever and whenever we can.

Community Citizenship–We recognize our responsibility to be active participants in our local communities. We give a minimum of 5% of our profits every year to a wide variety of community and non-profit organizations.

Integrity In All Business Dealings–Our trade partners are our allies in serving our stakeholders. We treat them with respect, fairness and integrity at all times and expect the same in return.

6.  Creating ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers

Integrity in All Business Dealings–Our supplier partners are our allies in serving the interests of our other stakeholders in bringing to market the safest highest quality products available. We treat them with respect, fairness and integrity at all times and expect the same in return. We seek supplier partnerships that share our concern for social responsibility and the environment.

Honesty and Communication–We are committed to honesty, timeliness and clarity in communicating with our suppliers and we expect the same in return.

Transparency–We seek to create transparency from “farm to fork” with respect to production, planning, sourcing, ingredients, product safety and efficacy in order to bring to market the safest highest quality products available. We work with our supplier partners in eliminating all unnecessary production and distribution costs to help ensure the best possible price.

Education–We partner with our suppliers to educate, inspire and communicate the outstanding quality and benefits of our products to promote a lifestyle of health, balance and well-being.

Innovation/Differentiation–We foster supplier partnerships that enable us to remain at the forefront of the retail food industry, by creating new, unique and innovative products.

  1. Thanks for posting this — I was planning on writing a short list of core values, but now I’m inspired!

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