by Tom Emison, Vice President, Strategy and Innovation, Kraus-Anderson
Core strength has been misinterpreted for decades. For years, it was viewed as having solid six-pack abs. We’ve all seen the models, the CrossFit fanatics, the Pilates, Yoga, and fitness instructors with their constant mantra “you gotta’ work on your core.” In recent years, more studies have shown that working on your core is not so much about the aesthetics of six-pack abs as it is about your entire torso. That includes all of the muscles up and down the spine, shoulder blades, pelvis, hips, butt, abs, pecs, and a deep muscle called the transverse abdominis; as hard to pronounce as it is to spell. The core muscle groups form a dynamic link between your legs and arms, making them key to athletic performance in any sport. A strong core makes one more resistant to injury and produces better overall posture. Without a great core, you can’t be a great athlete.
At Kraus-Anderson, we have a great core – values. We think real strength comes from the core.
Our Core Values:
• Do the right thing – always be respectful, honest, and fair.
• Collaborate to foster trust and success for all.
• Take ownership, work hard, and keep promises.
o Value people
• Support each other in a safe, positive environment where people are recognized and appreciated for their contributions.
These core values run up and down the torso of our Companies, forming a dynamic link between our employees, clients, and subcontractor partners. They are key to outstanding performance. We are constantly “working on our core.” You could say our strong core makes is resistant to corporate injuries.
Core strength doesn’t come from looking good on the outside, but having no operating principles on the inside.
Some construction organizations understand this, others not so much. Kraus-Anderson is a lot more interested in this internal conduct and our operating beliefs than a lot of companies. We spent a huge amount of time, money, and energy Companies-wide just to develop those four core values. We invest even more time communicating, reinforcing, recognizing, and celebrating our core values. Like the transverse abdominis, our core values run real deep; like how we communicate honest but bad news to a client on the front end of their project even if it means losing, or delaying the project; like using the Lean Construction principle of respect for people; like field leaders committing countless hours to project success before sunrise and after sunset all year round – without complaint I might add. When I ask some KA employees to talk to me about our core values, I ask “what does that statement mean to you; how did you learn these core values when you were young?” I’ve seen grown men and women get choked up telling me how one of their parents, a grandparent, a teacher or a coach taught them that core value. Yup. Runs deep with some of us.
So how, do we “work” our core values?
o We communicate them clearly, in writing, and verbally before hiring personnel.
o During onboarding we heap on another “set” shall we say.
o In our annual culture survey, we ask employees about these then hold Insight Meetings after our results pour in to talk about our core values.
o We talk to clients about them during our marketing, business development, and pre-construction phases.
o We open and close meetings referring to our core values as often as possible (that’s a tricky one; hard to practice all the time, but we’re working on it).
o In our top leadership meetings, we share examples, we share stories – in effect, it’s like a core values workout group.
This core body strength and core values strength metaphor could go on, but you get the point. As a leader in the construction, real estate, and insurance industries, we know that real strength comes from the core – values that is.