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Many of our clients grow their businesses to the place where adding more team members is the next natural step. First they may add an assistant, then a buyer’s agent or two, a transaction coordinator, an inside salesperson, a listing partner and so on. As that growth happens, the question, “Who are we and what do we stand for?,” often arises. Finding people is not a challenge; however, finding high-quality people whose values align with yours can be.

Building a culture based on core values is the heart and soul of your business. I’m not talking about fluffy words that are put on a plaque. What I’m talking about are the very standards that you live by and expect your team to live by.

In order to run a business based on core values, I suggest the following:

Define your core values. You need to identify your core values in writing. You MUST understand what is important to you. As the leader of your company, you need to live, eat and breathe your core values so that your team members will embrace those and make them a part of who they are as well.

Values are how you hire. When hiring, share your core values, as those get 90 percent of the weight in the decision process. Skills come second to core values. Hiring the person who best fits the team and embraces its core values is vastly more important than their technical expertise—skills can always be taught. If passion and accountability are important to your team values, ask the person how they understand those values and to provide an example of how they apply them in their life.

The team enforces the values. Once you have complete team buy-in of your core values, you (as the leader) need to turn over enforcement of the core values to the team. The team can hire, fire and call out any employee for violating those core values. Clearly define the consequences of not following the core values.

Values are the threads that tie your team together and the DNA that makes you unique in the marketplace. By hiring based on core values and holding each other accountable to the company’s standards, the values become the common threads that hold the team and company together. If you want honest, happy, hard-working people who value family and faith, then fill your office with people who share those same core values.

Here are some examples of core values used by our company and some of the companies we serve:

• We have a decided heart.
• We are responsible for our choices.
• We choose to be happy.
• We learn to forgive.
• We seek wisdom.
• Family first.
• We persist without exception.
• We are a company of action.
• Honor and integrity in everything we do.
• Skills and expertise set us apart
• Respect for ourselves, our team and our clients.
• We are creative problem solvers.

Feel free to borrow any of these as you create your core values, then work together as a team to make them part of your company’s DNA. Once you’ve done that, you become solid to the core.

Verl Workman is president of Corcoran Consulting, Inc.

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