Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How to ... create core values that are timeless

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 11:00 a.m. February 10, 2017
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Strategies
  • Share

Brothers Chadd and Keegan Hodges first looked to add services when they took on leadership roles in the family electrician business in 2010. That included plumbing and air conditioning work.

That led to a hiring boom at the Naples-based company, Best Home Services, and it quickly went from 15 to 50 employees. By 2011, the Hodges added another element, this one being more internal: core values. “We wanted to get something on paper to who we are,” Chadd Hodges says.

The first step was research. The Hodges, who had worked at the family business with parents Perry and Marilyn Hodges since they were kids, wanted this phase to be as inclusive as possible. They sent a list of 100 words to every employee and asked them to rank each word one to 10, with one being the most meaningful and 10 the least. The company even sent the list to select vendors and loyal customers.

A key element the word survey lacked: input from the Hodges. Chadd Hodges says the brothers didn't want this to be their values, but the company's values. “It was a little nerve-racking at first,” he says. “We were going to find out who we really are. And it might not be who we thought we were.”

Turns out the employees' values were closely aligned with the Hodges' values. Four of the words that scored the most meaningful points included family, fun, learning and amazing. Those words, says Chadd Hodges, represent what he believes the company, which does work from Marco Island to Bradenton, stands for.

The next step in the process was to add context to each word. The idea there is to keep it simple, memorable and relatable. The company's context:

• Be family: Treat everyone like a member of our family.

• Be amazing: Exceed every customer's expectations.

• Be fun: We have fun while we work. 

• Be constantly growing and learning: Always strive to become better.

Creating and getting the values down on paper is only one part of the project. Just as important? Ensuring employees actively use the values everyday at work.

The Hodges, in a play off something the brothers learned at a Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center training program, ordered laminated core value cards. Each card has one core value printed on one side. All the employees get a stack of cards, and when they see a colleague doing one of the values, they can give that person a card. Sometimes the employees will write a personal note or a draw a smiley face on the card. This can be for anyone from a customer service rep who de-escalates a rough phone call (amazing) to a field tech who passes an exam (learning).

Employees, says Chadd Hodges, love this part. Getting a core value card is a big deal. Many tack their cards above their computer or desk. “It sounds simple and silly,” Hodges says, “but everyone wants respect from their peers.”

Best Home Services now has 100 employees, about five years after creating its core values. One of the biggest lessons, says Chadd Hodges, is to have patience. “Core values aren't created overnight,” he says. “These have to be something you will live with for a while.”

— Mark Gordon


Latest News


Special Offer: Only $1 Per Week For 1 Year!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.
Join thousands of executives who rely on us for insights spanning Tampa Bay to Naples.