A few weeks ago I was going through a series of simple strategic plans with a group of entrepreneurs. When we arrived at the section on core values, the average plan had 10 values with highly detailed explanations. After seeing this pattern, I offered up the Hallway Values Test:
- Independently stop 10 employees in the hallway
- Ask each employee to write down the company values
- Compare the answers to the actual core values
- Assess the percent right and grade it on a typical letter scale
What’s the chance your company gets an ‘A’?
After going through this exercise with a dozen entrepreneurs, it’s clear that every company would get an ‘F’.
In today’s pandemic environment, the Hallway Values Test isn’t doable. Instead, run it as a Zoombomb Values Test. Drop in on a Zoom call and ask each person to type up the values in a local notes app — no cheating. Then, when everyone is ready, copy and paste the answers into the Zoom chat window. Now, see how many were right and assess the results.
Of course, the next question is how to improve the grade on the Hallway Values Test.
A few ideas to improve on the Hallway Values Test:
- Have 3 – 5 Values – As much as we want to capture an extensive list of values as part of the constitution of our company, try limiting it to three, and no more than five values. Less is more when it comes to people remembering, and upholding, core values.
- Incorporate Values in Regular Communication – Repetition, repetition, repetition. Put the core values in the Weekly Update Email, talk about a different value at each Daily Check-in, and give out a lawn gnome to the employee that most embodies a value each month
- Require Culture Anecdotes at Quarterly Reviews – Update the quarterly check-in process with the question “how are you following the values?” and require an anecdote for each value.
The Hallway Test is a great way to assess the strength of values in a culture. Personally, I believe culture, including values, is one of the most important things an entrepreneur can instill in a business, and when done well, becomes one of the most powerful and sustainable advantages.
Ready to assess the strength of your values? Run the Hallway Values Test.