Over the past several months, the Great Resignation and what’s driving it have filled countless headlines. Many people quit their jobs for bigger paychecks and better benefits; others say they left because they want to feel more valued at work and work for companies whose values align with their own.
While the concept of corporate core values was first formally introduced about 30 years ago, they’ve long been the foundation for how successful and growing businesses do business. Core values shape everything from a company’s decisions to the relationships it forms with its clients. They also motivate employees and, ultimately, drive engagement. That’s why it’s more important than ever for companies to create intentional and dynamic company cultures and “walk the talk” when it comes to their core values.
For more than 25 years, our team at The 180 Group has lived our core values daily. Yet, it wasn’t until December 2020 that we clearly defined them. At the time, we were going through a rebranding process, and I was about to step into my new role as President and CEO. We took time as a company to discuss our main guiding principles. Our Director of Business Development, Sales and Marketing, Elaiza Shepherd, sat down one-on-one with each employee and asked us what one word best described what The 180 Group meant to each of us.
The most predominant answer among our team was actually two words — Flawless Execution. To us, that means the endless pursuit of excellence — not perfection. It’s an aspirational goal because we know that in the live events industry, it’s not if things will change but when they will change, and we must be ready at all times. Investor and author Morgan Housel summed it up best when he wrote, ”The most reasonable plan is planning on your plan not going according to plan.” And that’s how we achieve flawless execution production after production. We’ve put the right people and processes in place so that when something changes at the last minute, we’re able to adapt quickly so the show goes on and everything is seamless for the audience.
And speaking of adaptability, that ties into our second core value — Innovative. At The 180 Group, being Innovative means constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be done in the meetings and events industry. We do that by pushing ourselves to take calculated risks, try things we’ve never done before and learn in the process. I personally ask everyone before every show what are they doing that’s new. It doesn’t have to be a major tech jump — it can be a process improvement or simply a better way of organizing the AV gear. Sometimes, just breaking free of our own routines can open the door to more creativity and flexibility. It’s what inspired our talented team to look beyond traditional Zoom events and harness the power of technology to build immersive environments that infuse a whole new level of energy, professionalism and polish into our virtual experiences.
But Innovative means more to us than just leveraging the latest tech tools to engage audiences in fresh and exciting ways. It’s also thinking about every event holistically and designing an experience around a core meaning that takes the audience on a journey. From the moment they receive the invite to the feeling they get when they walk through the door to the memories they hold when they reflect back on the event, we build an elevated experience that’s intentional every step of the way.
Our third core value — Trusted — is something we’ve earned over the past quarter-century by going above and beyond for our clients. Event planning can be stressful, and we pride ourselves on always being responsive and honest, understanding our clients’ needs, exceeding their expectations and delivering excellence under demanding circumstances. To borrow again from Housel, “Past performance increases confidence more than ability,” and that is exactly why our clients trust our experienced team.
And finally, our fourth core value is we’re Human. As a group, we’re passionate about our work. We know how important each event is, and we work tirelessly so the final product reflects that. But beyond our work ethic, we are 23 individuals who each bring our own perspectives and skills to the table. We encourage open and honest communication among each other and with our clients, who are people too, and we always do our best to provide opportunities, tools and strategies to help and support each other whenever we can. We champion work/life balance and well-being, not only for ourselves but also for our audiences.
For us, our core values aren’t just corporate buzzwords that make us feel good; they’re the bar we set for ourselves and our productions. They are our compass and our accountability, and they all tie together to form who we are. This is, unfortunately, where some companies fail — their values are mostly “scripted” and not lived, which leads to greater cynicism and disconnection among employees. My experience has taught me three ways companies can achieve genuine buy-in from their employees to their core values:
- Involve the whole team.
This is not simply a “feel-good effort” for show. As leaders, we should involve our full teams in the process of defining our core values by asking what the company means to them and what they believe are their defining values, characteristics and measurable behaviors. This creates an opportunity where people can agree, as a community, about what matters most to them. Plus, if words come back that don’t paint the culture in a positive way, we should change our culture.
2. Write them down.
Science shows that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Core values should be written down and seen daily, whether they’re predominantly displayed on signs in the office or on a file on our computers that we can open whenever we need a reminder.
3. Live them unapologetically.
Lastly, we must live our core values unapologetically every single day — and it starts at the top. If we, as leaders, aren’t living our core values, then we’re being dishonest at our core. We must lead by example and set the tone, and our teams will mirror our behaviors in return.
Meaningful core values stand the test of time, and ours certainly have. They inspire us every day and help us navigate challenges when they arise. They’re at the heart of everything we do for our colleagues, our clients and our industry. It’s The 180 Group way.