Recruiting for your startup: Corporate culture, vision statement and core values

A clear corporate culture will help you in attracting and recruiting candidates who will embrace and support that culture. Once you have determined the corporate culture you want to create and build in your startup, the next step is to clarify it for employees and recruitment candidates.

While a job description defines the tasks expected of an employee, you also need to drive behaviour by showing staff how they should conduct themselves.

Why startups should have core values or vision statements

Articulating a vision statement and/or a set of core values is a helpful practice. This defines your corporate cultural goals through a simple set of guidelines. With these, every time an employee or manager is faced with a decision or needs to take action, they are equipped with information on how your startup wants to do business.

When the vision statement and core values are well communicated, staff will hold each other accountable to a consistent set of expectations, and challenge each other when necessary. “Management by example” is critical to ingraining core values into the daily culture of an organization, so be committed to live by what you say.

Vision statements in corporate culture

Make your vision statement a simple phrase that is easy to remember and understand. It should convey the desired view of your company and its underlying beliefs and values. The vision statement should also be inspirational and provide insight into how the company conducts business. It is more about a “feeling” that will grab stakeholders, rather than a nuts-and-bolts objective.

Example of a vision statement

For example, an organization promoting literacy or selling books might have as their vision statement, “To create a world where every child reads.”

A vision statement would not say: “We will teach five million people in North America to read by 2025.” That would be a mission statement.

Core values

Core values are more specific than a vision statement. They articulate the beliefs and principles that drive your organization. Core values will guide each action and decision taken.

Always define your core values with your desired corporate culture in mind. This will reinforce the desired behaviour that will create and support how you want your startup to do business.

Core values are often centered around the following concepts:
• Customer service
• Quality
• Commitment to results
• Teamwork
• Industry leadership
• Creativity/innovation
• Honesty, integrity and respect
• Learning
• Responsible spending
• Sustainability
• Corporate and social responsibility
• Passion
• Collaboration

Leveraging corporate culture when recruiting

When you have established a clear corporate culture, you can adapt your recruiting approach to attract candidates who will embrace and support that culture. Convey your core values in your advertising to attract people excited by the environment you describe. Core values can also provide a basis for discussion or probing during the interview. They will help you identify the candidates that best fit your organization in an objective, consistent way, which is generally more effective than relying on the traditional “gut feeling.”

Hire people who will embrace the core values of your organization and uphold them.

Solidifying your startup’s corporate culture

Once your corporate culture is clearly articulated, integrate it into every aspect of your human resources management. Reinforce these beliefs and values every step of the way. This will help solidify and promote your desired culture.