Core values

Nov 18, 2019

They count, so gather your leadership team, find the set of behaviors they admire, and make them part of your mission and vision.

For many years now, it has been a common practice for companies to have mission and vision statements. These are good things to have, as they should provide the clear direction for where your organization is headed. However, a mission and vision statement do not adequately explain the behaviors that are expected from the individuals within the organization. You may understand what you want to be and where you want to go, but you may not be sure which actions are going to make you successful in achieving that mission.

As a leader of your team, you are responsible for setting the tone and the expectations. This is where a set of core values can have a transformational effect on your company.

A good set of core values for your company will answer this question: What is the basis for which we hire, fire, reward, and promote in our organization? Developing and communicating a clear set of core values puts everyone on the same page. From the CEO down to the entry level positions, everyone is held to the same standards. These values promote unity, provide clear expectations, and set the standard for accountability.

To develop your core values you’ll need to gather your leadership team and set aside some time together. Typically, this process will take up to four hours. Start by simply writing down all the qualities that you admire and respect about the people in your organization. For example, “I like that Zach is always on time” or, “I can always count on Amy to exceed my expectations.” You can take these specific statements and distill them to their core values: Timeliness and reliability. As you work through the process you will likely see patterns emerge in what the organization holds valuable; these become your core values. The outcome should be a list of no more than five to six key characteristics that define the expected behaviors for your organization.

As a catalyst to the process, you may find it useful to research the core values of other companies. Find one or two companies that you admire and read through their core values. This will give you some insight into how to proceed. However, at the end of the day you want your core values to be unique to your organization. Simply copying the core values of another organization and using them as your own will not fit well with your team; everyone will see through it. Once the list of core values is completed, it is important that the entire leadership group has consensus on the final list and is ready to hold each other accountable.

The next essential step is the clear communication of these values to the entire organization. Bring the entire team together and share not only the core values, but also walk through the process of how you arrived at these values. Share why it is important for the people in your organization to embody these values. If done successfully, you will start to see and feel the accountability grow within your organization as you move to fulfill your mission and vision.

There are a lot of great tools available online for helping you develop the core values for your organization. If you are looking for some help or advice on how to get started, please contact me.

Brandon Pinkerton, PE, LEED AP, is the president of HP Engineering, Inc., an MEP design firm that believes everyone deserves comfortable, safe, healthy, and easy to manage building environments. He has over 16 years of electrical design experience. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.