The Beauty of Living Our Core Values
Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you felt like you had to choose between your authentic self and the you that you thought was required for the job?...
Was there a disconnect between these 2 personas? Did you feel that because you were the only woman in the room, you had to conform to a behavioral norm that would be more easily accepted? How did that make you feel? Whether you were the only young lady on your senior design project in college, the only female welder on the manufacturing floor, or the only woman during the executive staff meeting, all of us have had at least one experience, inside or outside of the workplace, where we had to reflect on one of the most important elements of our lives: our core values.
Where did those core values come from? Did someone give you a list of core values and told you study them, adopt them, and make them your own? Of course not! Our core values are the personification of what we believe. They shape the pure essence of our character and ultimately become who we are. The beautiful thing about being you is that you do not have to think about it because it is who you are! We all want to bring our authentic self to everything we do both personally and professionally.
But sometimes, it can be very difficult to find corporate cultures that are a match for our values. It can be even more difficult to recognize that this disconnect exists…until we experience something else...
While this notion of “being your authentic self” may seem simplistic in nature, it’s a small, yet potent, detail that we all face daily. It is one I recently experienced, and it literally changed my life. Let me tell you about it!
How many times have you interviewed for the “perfect job”, done your due diligence, met all the people and accepted an offer, super excited to walk into a new environment where you were ready to rule the world, only to find out, “This was not what I thought.” Maybe you allowed your zeal, optimism, and determination to unconsciously keep the blinders on and not see there was something deeper that was missing. Unbeknownst to me, this was my story. I have been working in the manufacturing and supply chain sectors for over 16 years. I was blessed to join a Fortune 500 company right out of college, with multiple roles of increasing responsibility. During my time there, I experienced many of the questions and situations above. I loved my job, loved the people, but there always seemed to be a tiny disconnect between who I knew I was and who I needed to be at work. Of course, this wasn’t a big deal – it’s just the way things were! I was young - this was the way to navigate through corporate America. In fact, I didn’t even realize during this time that there was a disconnect…at least not to the magnitude that I later discovered.
While I was in the middle of planning for a strategic session for the next fiscal year, I received a phone call from a representative of Greenheck. You may be thinking what I was thinking when I first heard of this company – what in the world is Greenheck? Great question! The Greenheck Group is a global leading manufacturer of commercial air movement, control, and conditioning equipment, for non-residential applications and industries.
I was not looking for a job, nor did I want to leave my job, but it was something about that initial dialogue that intrigued me to continue the conversation: it was the discussion regarding the company’s values.
My initial thought was, “Wow, are we really having a conversation about the company’s values in this initial introductory phone call? That is AWESOME!” But of course, this was only one person, one phone call – so while still intrigued, I wasn’t yet 100% convinced at that time. After all, this was completely new to me. Shortly thereafter, I spoke with 2 other leaders of the Greenheck team, and there it was again – this firm stance of the company’s values as the way they operate. What was even more intriguing to me, is that before I knew what the values were and what they truly meant, I was experiencing them in my own process of getting to know the leaders of this company. Finally, during my interview, I asked the CEO, what differentiates Greenheck from every other company? Essentially, what I was asking was, why should I consider leaving a good job that I have been with for 16 years – what makes Greenheck so special that I would do that? His answer wasn’t about the products they manufacture, or the cutting-edge technology they were developing…he didn’t make any promises or run down a list of spectacular things about the company. He said in the humblest way, “All I can say is it’s our core values and our team members who live those values – that’s the differentiating factor.” So by now, you must be wondering, what’s so magical about these core values? What was it about these values that intrigued me enough to walk away from my job of 16 years and take a step of faith to try something different? There was no magic sauce; there wasn’t anything special about having the values themselves – after all, most companies have values.
So needless to say, I accepted the job – and here I am 6 months in and serve as a living testament that the core values at Greenheck were not just a beautiful word cloud on the wall or a list of ideologies that sounded good when I spoke with several leaders during my interview process. These are the non-negotiables of the pure essence of who they are, and I am still experiencing this today!
I have seen first-hand the values exemplified in the behaviors, priorities, and the decision making of everything that we do. I experienced Greenheck making it easy to do business with. It wasn’t something that they were forcing themselves to do – it was the brand of who they were. This is the way our customer identifies us and what differentiates us from others. What was so awesome was no matter who I met or which business unit I visited, the values were always exemplified in what people said, felt, believed, and ultimately, what they did. This within itself showed a culture of unyielding integrity and professionalism…staying true to who they were at the core.
Even when there may be differing opinions regarding a specific matter, as a team, we remind each other of the values and stand on those values as the deciding factor.
I have experienced this not only with my own team in Tennessee, but multiple cross-functional teams across the business. Another example is the ongoing investments in people and operations across the company. I was amazed that when I started at Greenheck, there was already a plan to not only provide lean training to the salary team members and the “shining stars” of the hourly team, but there was a plan for ALL team members on all shifts to go through lean training, which is a huge investment!! It is also a testament of our continuous improvement culture through learning, innovation, and teamwork. Attending ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) for the first time in February in Orlando, FL was really eye opening to clearly see the mutually beneficial partnerships with both our sales partners and our suppliers. Getting to know our sales partners, their families, their backgrounds, etc., it is truly evident that they are an extension of our family. Finally, as someone who has led STEM programs and worked with youth for years, I love having the opportunity to partner with the community and working together as a Greenheck family to make a difference in the community. I just recently joined the board for the Boys and Girls Club, and I’m looking forward to working with my team to expand our reach in the Western Tennessee community.
So again, no magic sauce – just the pure beauty of working for a company who exemplifies the true essence of their core values with every action, word, and deed, and most importantly, welcoming and inviting you to do the same. That’s the way values are lived…that’s the way they are operationalized throughout the organization. I don’t have to choose a version of me to be today – but I can bring my whole self to work, knowing that just as I live within my core values, so does my workplace.
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