Creating core values that are true to what’s important (and what’s not).

Posted on Categories Brandonomics, Core Values, Purpose, Savage Thinking

Bethany Andell is discussing values with Laura Richardson of Frazer. Laura talks about how they arrived at their core values and how she uses humor to remind everyone to have fun.

It’s great to have core values, but how does a company determine what those values may be? It’s a thoughtful process that requires employee involvement. Laura Richardson, CEO of Frazer, a designer/manufacturer of emergency medical service vehicles, continues her visit with Bethany Andell.

Bethany:  Welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at purpose led companies and their strategies. I’m Bethany Andell, President of Savage Brands, and today I welcome back Laura Richardson, CEO of Frazer. Frazer is a builder, concepter, and re-mounter of emergency vehicles.  They are actually defining the future of mobile healthcare and last time we had a lot of opportunity to talk about your purpose so I’m really excited to have you back.

Laura:  Yes, thanks for having me.

Bethany:  So we’ve talked about your purpose which is to unleash potential and how that relates to your people and to the industry and to the company, etcetera but I also want to talk to you specifically about how intentional you are about your values and your culture and how you’re really bringing all of that to life in the company.  So it would be great if you could share with us what your core values are and then talk to us about how that comes to life.

Laura:  We came up with our core values about 3 years ago and we had a team put together, there were 9 of us on the team from all different walks of the company.  Our President was not on the core value team, my brother was not on the core value team; we thought about wanting a good cross-section of the employees and ended up with some amazing core values. So they are We All We Got, Bring Your Own Passion, Family By Choice, Our World Is Not Flat, Don’t Fear Failure, Own It, and Destroy Doubt Through Determination.

Bethany:  You have to tell me a little more about We all we got.

Laura:  We all we got; so that was actually the first core value and it’s interesting because people ask “well how did you come up with these core values?”  And it would have been interesting to video the process because it was just time and thought.  I mean there were times where we were silent for 4 or 5 minutes at a time because we thought through every single word.  But we have some guys that mount the body onto the truck and they call themselves the TMG – the truck mount gang – and when they would sign their emails they would always put #weallwegot.  So that was this term that was thrown around the company and basically, it meant that the people that you have in time, the information, it is what it is.  We’re always going to work to get better.  We’re going to work to get a better system but what we have right now is what we’re going to work with and so that was the obvious choice for our very first core value.

Bethany:  I love it.  I don’t even work with you but they feel so you.

Laura:  And that’s what’s crazy because we spent I don’t know 17 hours coming up with these core values in the 1 ½ hour meetings, but they feel like we could have just walked into a room in 10 minutes and put them up on the wall because they embody exactly what our company is but took so much thought because this is what they’re going to be for a very long time.

Bethany:  That’s great.  You came up with your values, you’ve got six of them, talk to me just a little bit or share a couple of examples of how you really make sure that these values are the living values and what the culture is about.

Laura:  Living out our core values can be difficult at times because we’re balancing production and safety and money and the culture all at the same time.  Once we did this we rolled out our core values and we have a uniform out on the shop floor and one of those includes our core values t-shirt.  So we have 6 different ones with 6 different colors so on any given day you’ll probably see half the company wearing a t-shirt with his or her favorite core value on it.  I know all 6 of them, I would say 100% of our employees know at least one and most of them could rattle off 3 pretty quickly.

They actually come up in the performance review – there’s a self-review and then a team review and we actually grade on the core values.  So we have a definition of what they mean, they’re on banners throughout the shop.  They’re just something that’s reinforced.  We have Frazer University or FU as we lovingly call it.  And so our employees go through FU and we’re on the second year of it, so it’s FU2. So we talk a lot about our core values there, we talk about why they’re important.  Each month I host a meeting for all of our new employees and it’s the WTF meeting, or Welcome to Frazer.  If you take yourselves too seriously all the time you’re not ever really going to have fun.  One thing about our core values is that they are exclusive, not inclusive.

Bethany:  Describe that.

Laura:  It tends to confuse people.  I think about a lot of companies and their core values and maybe they have courage or commitment or integrity or something.  They’re values that anyone coming in to fill out an application would probably look at those and go yep, I fit all of those and I’m going to come on in. So when you look at ours you kind of go “hmph, I’m not really sure about that.”  So in that way, it means that not everybody who walks in is going to buy into our own brand of sort of weirdness and that’s okay.  So if it is something that people want they’re really all in or we have some folks who kind of say I’m not really sure about this but I’m willing to give it a try.  That’s what I mean by they’re exclusive versus inclusive.

Bethany:  That’s great.  Most values that you hear are so watered down and you don’t really know what they mean so I appreciate you sharing that and hopefully people learn from that.

Laura:  Yes, absolutely.

Bethany:  Thanks for coming.

Laura:  You bet, thank you.

Bethany:  That concludes this edition of Brandonomics and we will see you next time, thanks.

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