Guest post by Kathleen Cloud, M. Frank Higgins & Co., Inc., President

You have probably been in an organization, school or business that had their mission statement and core values posted on the wall somewhere. No attempt, however, was made to make these values part of the daily fabric of the group and share with customers.

Broadcasting your core values to all and using them to guide you can be a powerful tool for personal and business success. Businesses like Zappos, Whole Foods and Netflix have seen an enormous benefit in using their Core Values to steer their respective ships.(1) Company morale improves, and customers increase their trust in you when the core values are relevant.

Developing Your Core Values
So just how do you come up with a meaningful set of core values? What image do you want to convey? Get your leadership team together and brainstorm a list of characteristics of those you admire and respect. Copy these on a whiteboard for all to see.

When our team did this activity, we constructed the following:
Honesty and integrity, enthusiastic, energetic, tenacious, services the customer, understands the value of reputation, encourages teamwork, pride in work, ability to adapt, do whatever it takes, commitment to excellence, competitive drive, passionate

Next, narrow down and refine the list to come up with ones you believe as a team are “core” to your business success. The goal is for your list to consist of 3 to 7 key core values that really define who you are. We came up with a graphic that would be easy to see and use daily.(2) Regardless of the format, “define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice, and then communicate consistently in those terms.” (3)

Living your Core Values

When you hire new employees, your core values should be present and discussed as part of the interview process. This lets your potential new hire know about your beliefs and their importance. It also can help you weed out those who do not exemplify what your company stands for. Make sure your employees know the significance of your core values. “Catch” someone exemplifying a core value and highlight it for all to see. When our project administrative team worked exceptionally well with our estimation team on a difficult submittal recently, we noted that teamwork was one of our core values that was clearly demonstrated. It can help improve the morale in the office all around. In the event you have to terminate an employee, these same core values can make that process a bit smoother, making it clear that there was an egregious break from what we value as a company.

Core & COVID
We reflected upon these values during the pandemic. By valuing safety, integrity, teamwork, education, service and passion, we were able to devise, communicate and execute proper protocols to get our employees back to work at the end of May. We renovated a new office with lots of natural light, putting in some higher clear glass wall panels and offices with glass doors, that made social distancing easy to achieve all the while still feeling part of the group. In addition, to bring some smiles and “clean” the air, we installed a special “grow” wall. Those with a love of gardening were thrilled to help in the planting of this beautiful area. Getting your employees involved is a real boost to morale.

In closing, do your core values need to be tweaked? Perhaps there is a better way to broadcast your message to your employees and customers. So shine up your business for all to see!


1 Gino Wickman, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books Inc., 2011)

3 Simon Mainwaring, We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Renew Capitalism and Build a Better World