Once upon a time, in far-away galaxy, in an era when face-to-face interaction was the norm on planet Earth, I was sitting in a project meeting with our external design team and one hour into it I noticed my breathing got heavier, my heart rate accelerated, and I started to fidget. I was getting frustrated with my architect; I felt like raining down on him with criticism–how he is not hearing me, and how he was on a different page. Then I looked up and saw our company’s Core Values plaque that was displayed in the conference room – and it was staring right back at me. Core Value Number 1: We Treat People the Way We Want to Be Treated.
We are made to be relational human beings. Our main purpose on earth is to connect with one another and build relationships. Our CRE industry has the prime responsibility to foster a better world because the purpose behind the places we plan, build, and activate is to facilitate human relationships and interaction. Without core values, there is no trust; without trust, there are no relationships; and without relationship, we lose our humanity.
So what are core values, how do you create them, how do you maintain them, and how are our decisions guided by them?
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. They are guiding principles that dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. They govern our decision-making process. They are our GPS. They tell us what our currency for success is. If an organization has them and works diligently to implement and live them, that organization is more likely to successfully manage a crisis. If they do not exist, we can easily lose direction on how to behave during a difficult situation, a crisis, or when we are simply problem-solving. It’s easy to be superficially cordial and respectful of those around us when things are going well, but it is precisely in moments of crisis—when our status quo is interrupted, when our norms are challenged, when we are personally challenged/stressed, when it is tempting to let our baser instincts take over—that we need these principles to keep us rooted in our rational and noble selves. Core values become our moral compass.
When we have core values, we create enduring relationships.
As we continue to face this global crisis, having core values within our CRE organizations is paramount for survival. But it does not stop at the organizational level. Core values must exist in our homes, as we plan communities, and as we live as a society.
Core values within your organization. At Foulger-Pratt, we have six Core Values that are intertwined with our fabric as an organization. We incorporate them in every aspect of our culture internally and externally. We refer to them on a regular basis during meetings, and when making decisions big and small. We take our Core Values seriously and recognize and reward people who display them regularly and frequently. To create a culture that rewards behavior consistent with our Core Values, we have a recognition program called We Build to Last (WBTL). Any employee who notices someone exhibiting a behavior consistent with these values (internal or external to our organization), they can nominate them to receive a WBTL block and it gets broadcasted to the entire company. To refer to Foulger-Pratt’s Core Values, visit this link https://www.foulgerpratt.com/about-us/core-values/
Core values within your development plan. Just as important as core values within a corporate culture, instituting a set of core values for a community at the design level is a must. Like design guidelines, they help steer us to the type of community we want to create. They answer questions such as: How do we build inclusive communities? How do we encourage our residents to conduct themselves when they live in our communities?How are we inspired when we live in such communities? Our Mission at Foulger-Pratt is “to create inspired places – one building, one relationship, one person at a time.” Core Values helps us ensure that our mission is realized at each community we develop.
Core values within your home. Core values shape who we are as people. They shape our character, our moral compass, and our interaction with others. Now more than ever, as people working at home, core values are as critical for a home as they are for an organization, if not more so. As Dave Ramsey says: “more is caught than taught.” Our children will catch more of our behavior based on how we interact with them and with others than from the words they hear from us. If we have a set of core values that shape us as individuals, as families, and as people, and we strive to behave consistently by those values, we will get through this crisis and become stronger. When the global pandemic started, I created a set of Core Values for our family. Each time a family member sees another person exhibiting one of our core values, we nominate them for a building block. I adopted this system from Foulger-Pratt.
Core values within our society. As our society faces difficult conversations about discrimination, there is an urgent need to discuss our society’s core values and implement a moral compass that is based on human dignity, interconnection, trust, and relationships. This crisis is affecting everyone in different ways (some visible, some not), and we must nurture compassion for humanity, starting with one another. This is a generational defining moment that reminds us daily of our interconnectedness.
Ultimately, the CRE industry is about building communities that are grounded in core values created to promote enduring human relationships at the individual level, one relationship at a time.
Vice President, Foulger-Pratt, LLC
ULI Full Member
Co-Chair, ULI Housing Initiative Council
In ULI Washington’s new Leadership Insights column, ULI Washington will regularly feature member leader’s thoughts and insights as we adjust personally and professional to a “new normal.”