Every company reflects its founders' ideals, philosophies, and endeavors. Founders embed their vision into the startup's foundation, giving it the spirit and direction it needs to thrive. The challenge is developing and maintaining that energy while growing the business. And do so in an environment with little time. much pressure and even more uncertainty.
With today's blog post, I want to introduce you to Corporate Core Drivers as an alternative to core values and as a system for creating employee, client, and founder success despite the challenges.
The contemporary business management approach advocates establishing core values as a compass for decision-making and fostering the desired culture. Regrettably, research has repeatedly demonstrated the limitations of core values, particularly in their practical application and subsequently perceived authenticity by employees (1).
Plus, startup environments exacerbate these shortcomings. Startups are often chaotic, leaving little time or energy for the contemplation and genuine implementation of core values.
Instead of core values, I propose adopting Corporate Core Drivers. Unlike core values, which usually range between three to nine traits and are often vague, Core Drivers are simple, memorable, and integral to everyday operations. They tell a story of how the company helps themselves, and clients produce results.
The story component of Core Drivers is crucial as it makes the drivers more memorable and easier to use. Without story, the drivers are just components that people can use or not. This is one reason core values don't work. It's too easy to pick and choose the values you want and ignore those you don't. With story, the drivers become a process for producing results with a beginning, middle, and end that you repeat.
For example, my company's Core Drivers are Clarity, Action, and Growth. These explain how I help clients clarify who they are, align their actions with their core selves, and grow by evaluating, celebrating, and refining their efforts. Plus, my Core Drivers give me a framework for solving problems. What would help address the problem - more clarity, more action, or more growth?
A repeatable three-step process that tells the story of how I help myself, and others produce results.
Each person has Core Drivers that reflect who they are and how they do things. I'll share how to clarify your Core Drivers shortly. But for now, just know if you combine the Core Drivers of the founders, you can create the Corporate Corp Drivers for their company. This happens because, as we said, a company always reflects the founders and how they operate. Know more about the founders, and you can help the company achieve more with less stress.
As a founder, clarifying your Corporate Core Drivers provides three immediate benefits:
Enhancing Problem-Solving Skills: By aligning actions with their core selves, founders tap into their innate creativity, confidence, and problem-solving abilities. This clarity aids in overcoming challenges and achieving goals.
Establishing a Framework for Results: Founders have unique methods of operation. By crystallizing this process, they can develop a framework that can drive results, fostering a sense of clarity, action, and growth within the company.
Cultivating Aligned Teams: The more founders understand their Core Drivers, the better they can find team members and partners who align with them. This results in a culture reflective of the founders' vision, attracting like-minded individuals and promoting growth.
As founders utilize the Corporate Core Drivers, they naturally create and reinforce the corporate culture. A few ways Core Drivers can be integrated into a company's fabric include:
Recruitment and Onboarding: Core Drivers can inform recruitment, and new hires can be trained on them. More importantly, staff can create their relationship with the Core Drivers. Their connection won't be as strong as the founder's, but it will be there for people aligning with the Drivers and mission.
Daily Operations and Planning: Staff can apply Core Drivers to daily problem-solving and strategic planning by asking, "Which of our Core Drivers would help us in this situation?"
Learning and Troubleshooting: Core Drivers can help identify what was missing when goals aren't met, or the employee or client experience is not where you want it to be.
Developing Procedures and Routines: Core Drivers can provide a guiding framework for different departments. Each department can explore what the individual drivers mean to them and their roles.
Staff and Leadership Development: Core Drivers can aid in personal growth and leadership skills development by giving people a framework to create more clarity, action, and growth in their role or career.
Mission Statements: Core Drivers can support a company's mission statement. "We are here to accomplish this goal and serve these people, and here are the steps that will make us successful."
Difficult Conversations and Decisions: Core Drivers can provide a compass for navigating difficult conversations and decisions. "How can I say what needs to be said and leave people present to the Corporate Core Drivers." and "Given the options, which will help our clients and employees experience more of our Corporate Core Drivers?"
Founder and Staff Well-being: Core Drivers provide a starting point and a system for solving problems. This reduces the mental energy needed to find solutions. If well-being does become a problem, the team can ask, "Which of the Core Drivers is missing or could be elevated in this situation?"
Using and making the most of the Core Drivers is a matter of practice. The more the founders and team use them, the more they will live true in the company. Fortunately, Core Drivers are useful and useable in numerous ways, so making them part of the company's day-to-day operations isn't challenging and makes sense as they save time and energy.
Here's a general process for creating and implementing Core Drivers. Fortunately, it isn't complicated:
Founders create a core statement (www.joeychandler.net/corepower).
Founders identify personal Core Drivers and their relation to their core statement.
The Founders work together to establish three Corporate Core Drivers that reflect them all somehow.
They apply the Core Drivers to different business areas for 7-days to create success stories and make any needed revisions.
They gradually roll out the Core Drivers to different levels of the company.
Once there are enough success stories company-wide, the Core Drivers can be shared in marketing materials and public messaging.
The process works and is shockingly fast because it's based on the core selves of the founders. Core Drivers simply clarify and refine how the founders already operate. You aren't creating anything new, so it takes less work than expected.
Indeed, numerous firms have thrived without their founders defining their essential nature and establishing Core Drivers. However, the business landscape has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. Uncertainty is rampant, and employees no longer tolerate disingenuous pledges. Firms that can foster individuality and well-being while concurrently delivering results and reaching targets will hold a competitive edge. Moreover, amid high employee turnover rates, a scalable and memorable management strategy becomes a magnetic pull for like-minded individuals, fostering retention.
Furthermore, Core Drivers simplify operations and alleviate stress, resulting in fewer decision-making hurdles. While repeatedly referencing Core Drivers may initially seem tedious, it accelerates problem-solving and reduces anxiety. The prevalence of burnout among employees of all ranks and company sizes is undeniable. Despite hefty investments in mitigating this issue, recent Deloitte research indicates that burnout remains a substantial challenge lacking clear remedies (2).
By enabling employees to express their true selves and cultivating an environment where the company's Core Drivers are embodied and used daily, we can counter the pervasive burnout crippling many firms.
If you are a founder, you want to create an amazing company. You aren't looking for perfection, but you want a place to be your full self and solve interesting problems with interesting people. Nowhere in your plan is to cause undue frustration or create burnout.
Developing your Corporate Core Drivers will help you create more of what you want and less of what you don't. And do so in a way that is sustainable over time. Core Drivers naturally reflect who you are and how you do things. With them, you will achieve goals faster with less stress.
If you are a founder and want to discuss your Core Drivers and how they could benefit you and your people, schedule a call: www.joeychandler.net/claritycall.
When It Comes to Culture, Does Your Company Walk the Talk? - https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/when-it-comes-to-culture-does-your-company-walk-the-talk/ (July 21, 2020)
As workforce well-being dips, leaders ask: What will it take to move the needle? - https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/talent/workplace-well-being-research.html (June 20, 2023)