A strong set of core values is critical for any business, but especially recruiting agencies.
It’s no secret that recruiters have a reputation problem. And for good reason: many recruiters have treated candidates like numbers in a spreadsheet, caring more about their next payday then actually making a difference in people’s lives.
Of course, there are also recruiters who buck this trend, taking care of their candidates and investing in their future and well being.
So what sets these modern, people-centric recruiters apart? One reason: they have strong core values.
Establishing and maintaining your core values helps you stay focused on what’s important, and ensures that everyone in your organization is working towards the same goals. Here are six ways you can put your core values into practice across your entire agency.
What are core values?
We’ve all heard the saying: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
That pretty much sums up what core values are. Without a clear focus on who you are and what you’re about, your recruiting agency will fall prey to the whims of whoever happens to be making the decision in the moment.
It’s not that your agency won’t have an identity. It’s worse than that: you’ll have an identity, but it won’t be under your control. And in most cases, it will be a negative one.
So what are core values exactly? Simply put, they’re the fundamental beliefs of your agency. They shape your culture and define your character. They guide decision-making and help to create a sense of purpose.
A great way to help define your core values is to ask yourself: if our agency was a person, what kind of person would they be? Common themes that often emerge are:
- People focus
Of course, there are many positive traits that can make up your agency, and not every one of them can be a core value. Focusing on specific core values doesn’t mean you’re excluding all the others. It simply means that those are the areas where you want to place a special focus.
How do you put your core values into practice?
One common pitfall when it comes to business core values is that companies often pay lip service to them without actually living them out. It’s one thing to say that your company values integrity, but it’s another thing to actually walk the talk.
If you want your company’s core values to be more than just words on a wall, you need to make sure that they guide everything you do. Here are five tips to help you do that.
1. Define your core values & make the team aware of them
No one can follow the rules if they don’t know what they are. Simply defining your core values in a way that’s easy to understand and emulate is a powerful first step.
For example, don’t just say “we value integrity.”
Say something like, “We’re honest and trustworthy in every one of our interactions, from our clients and candidates to our fellow team members. We say what we do and do what we say. You can take our word to the bank, every time.”
The former is vague and difficult to identify with. The second is concrete, and easy for every one of our team members to follow.
2. Hire for your core values
The best way to avoid core value violations is to hire for those values. During the hiring process, make sure that you weave in questions that indicate whether that candidate would be able to follow them.
Of course, don’t just say: “Here are our core values. Can you agree to them?” Any serious job seeker is going to automatically say, “yes.”
Instead, find creative ways to get them talking about these issues, or ask for stories from past jobs that can indicate how they’ve handled tough situations. You’ll quickly learn whether they line up with your values.
By hiring people who are already a good fit, you can avoid costly conflicts and mistakes in the future.
3. Enforce your core values consistently
If your core values are really “core,” then you can’t just enforce them when you feel like it.
You have to be consistent across the board, from your senior leadership and partners all the way down to the youngest intern. Failure to enforce your core values consistently sends the message that they don’t really matter.
Not only that, but remember that your core values define who you are and what success looks like. When your team doesn’t live up to those values, it hurts your business goals.
If you keep finding exceptions to every rule, maybe that’s a sign that you’re not dealing with a true core value. In that case, the solution is to reevaluate and adjust the rule itself, rather than keep allowing violations of it.
4. Provide formal and informal incentives
If your organization hasn’t been consistent with its core values in the past, bringing everyone on board may require some extra effort.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to offer incentives. Bonuses and perks for employees who “live your values” are often helpful. But don’t forget that a simple expression of gratitude and praise can go a long way.
Incentives are a great way to put your money where your mouth is, and show that your agency is willing to invest materially in implementing your core values. When done well, this can be a great way to increase morale and maintain employee satisfaction.
5. Don’t hesitate to part ways if necessary
Carrots are good, but sometimes you have to use a stick.
Any organization is only as good as the people that it employs. If someone isn’t living up to your core values, or if they’re continually falling short despite coaching and training, then it’s time to part ways with them.
Of course, this should be a last resort, after all attempts to train and coach them have failed. But if you reach the last straw and don’t part ways, that person will just drag the entire agency down.
It might be tough in the moment, but it’s the best thing for everyone in the long run.
Defining and implementing your core values across the organization helps establish your identity. This is the first step toward taking control of your reputation.
But you can’t be everywhere at once, especially if you manage a multi-location office. So how do you make sure that everyone is on board?
That’s where experience management software comes in. With automated review capture from candidates and clients, you can receive insight into your blind spots straight from the source. These reviews can help you figure out who’s performing well—and who needs a carrot or stick.
If maintaining your core values is important to you, then consider working with Great Recruiters. See how our platform can help you here.