The CEO’s Take: Defining Our Values & Culture

Creating a culture is vitally important to determining how organizations go about decision-making. It shapes the view the organization has internally, which thereby shapes the view that members and customers have of the organization.

In the world of corporate culture, Zappo’s has an incredible one. They have clearly defined values, which leads to a clearly defined culture. Zappo’s customers truly believe that the company exemplifies the values it espouses. This builds important trust between a company and its employees and customers.

Recently at the Association, the Board of Directors and staff went through strategic planning sessions and defined our values as an organization. We made it the first step to our strategic planning process because we truly believe that in order to plan, we must first define the way we make decisions. Defining that starts with articulating a culture of how we act, speak, and do.

The first question we needed to answer was ‘What is our organization is here to do?’  – in other words, what’s our mission. We defined that the association is here to “cultivate professionalism through embracing change and empowering expertise.”

The crux of that mission is this: We exist to provide tools, resources and services to our members to go out and be the experts in the real estate market. If we do that, we are successful and fulfilling our mission. We do that as an organization by focusing on professionalism and advocacy. After all, those are the only two things trade associations ever really should do.

We run classes, seminars and programs that help our members grow  professionally. We enforce a set of standards (Code of Ethics) and provide dispute resolution services in an effort to professionalize the industry. We advocate that the REALTOR® is an integral part of the transaction. We advocate that homeownership is something to be desired. And we advocate to protect the ability to own property and build better communities.

It is one thing to have a mission, but the bigger question that needs to be answered is ‘How do you execute that mission?’ What are the values that you base your decision making on, and that then allow you to achieve your mission?

We defined our values to be:

  • Collaboration: Demonstrating receptiveness to others and actively working together to achieve common goals

  • Communication: Sharing and receiving information in an open, transparent and compassionate way

  • Community Oriented: Putting the goals of the Association first; acting with awareness and consideration of the surrounding environment and community

  • Integrity: Reflecting honesty, truthfulness and fairness in your words and actions

  • Knowledge: Owning your role and continually striving to grow and improve

At the end of the day, we felt the values laid out a powerful decision-making process.

So, here’s what we can promise you: Our decisions and interactions with you will be made by following this process:

  • Start with an open mind

  • Make the goals of the Association a priority

  • Collaborate on common goals

  • Act with awareness and consideration of the situation

  • Communicate openly, transparently and compassionately

  • Use honesty, truthfulness and fairness with words and actions

  • Own your role and continually strive to improve

These are concepts that you can – and should – apply to your own business. Whether you’re an individual REALTOR®, a brokerage manager or a company owner, your decision making should be guided by a set of values, goals and a defined process. Having a defined culture will not only help you operate in a more organized, professional manner, it will help you get more and better results for your clients and, at the end of the day, generate more business for you and your colleagues. As a REALTOR®, you are a steward of a set of values, ethics and professionalism, and represent one of the most powerful and valuable brands in the world. Taking the time to define who you are and what your business stands for will ensure that our industry is healthy, profitable and ethical now, and in the long run.

For further reading:

Defining Corporate Culture Is Essential for Building Successful Teams

The Tale of Three Brokers