Erik Frank

EO Louisiana, Chapter President

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The Case for Core Values

What they are and how they can transform your company culture

It’s no secret that core values are living and breathing within Entrepreneurs’ Organization — each chapter of the worldwide peer-to-peer organization is guided, motivated and inspired by principles that dare them to fearlessly transform their respective businesses and communities.

But core values aren’t exclusive to EO, and they can be put to use in any company or organization. EO Louisiana Chapter President Erik Frank explains that core values are a list of themes, priorities and ideals that serve as the backbone of everything a company — and in turn, a company’s employees — do on a daily basis.

“Once you have core values, they live in your organization,” Frank says. “You use them in how you recognize, how you reward, how you hire, how you fire and how you promote.”

It’s not enough to simply have core values, though. As Frank explains, those values must be shared by every team member in order for them to effectively influence a company’s growth. They should be more than a list of words on a wall: they should serve as a compass in each action and decision a team or individual makes.
“If your values don’t live in your organization, you might as well not have them,” Frank says. “If I go up to the newest hire, or an employee who’s been there for years, and they can’t tell me what your core values are, then they aren’t living in your company.”

When core values are truly at work, they have a direct impact on motivation, growth and even retention. As Frank explains, when a company has clearly stated values and missions, it becomes immediately clear which employees are a good “fit” for the organization’s culture, as each individual’s missions should align with those of their employer.

Ben Gootee, owner and operator of Gootee Construction, says his company is a testament to the power of core values. Working together with an accountability partner from PetraCoach, a company that helps businesses set and achieve their goals, Gootee Construction began the discovery process of identifying and implementing core values. First, the entire company worked together to find mutual values that would serve as the keystones of their operations.

“The discovery and implementation process was a fun experience for us,” Gootee says. “We used the ‘Mission to Mars’ exercise by Jim Collins, which asks that you imagine you’ve been tasked with recreating the best version of your organization on another planet, but you only have room to take 5 to 7 people. Who would you take, and why? We had a wall covered with sticky notes. We put all the attributes into categories and condensed the list to 5 core values. One reason we fell in love with our core values is because they ended up being actions in lieu of individual words.”
After that, Gootee says that the effects of core values on his company environment were immediate and astounding.

“Once we unveiled our company core values, we quickly found that these were the right values for us,” Gootee says. “Our employees immediately started using them in the conversation and identified and gave appreciation to each other when they were being displayed and lived. It was unbelievable to see this happen. If a business leader hasn’t had the opportunity to go through this exercise, I highly recommend it. My experience is that it was great for our organization and created rallying cries for our whole Gootee Construction family.”


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