Phillips Edison’s unique and thriving culture is a source of great pride for every member of our team. We’ve received accolades and recognition for the many related programs that we have developed throughout the company’s 25 year history and associates frequently cite the culture as a reason they joined the company and also why they stay. Of course, as a learning organization, we are constantly evolving, improving and growing.
Last year, our leadership team partnered with a management consultant to assist us with the company’s strategic planning process and update it to better support Phillips Edison’s continued growth. Early in the initiative, our consultant asked us to define the company values and use that information to help guide us during our discussions. We were surprised to find that some of us had different views on the topic. One person listed honesty, integrity, respect, hard work and fun. Another felt innovation and learning should be on the list. All good values…but we really needed a common value system for the company that all associates could use as a compass to guide behavior.
So we dug deeper. We approached the larger associate population through informal discussions and a formal survey to find out what our associates value. For the purposes of these exercises, we changed the question a bit. Rather than asking what they thought Phillips Edison values, we asked what they, personally value. Starting with this input allowed us to compare each associate’s responses, find common ground across the company and define a value set that everyone in the company could stand behind and truly believe in.
The result was a list of about 20 words that were consistently listed by the team as “things they value.” We then held a series of focus group discussions to explore the meaning behind those words and what associates meant when they used them. These group sessions led to a broader understanding of how the terms were defined by the team and gave us the ability to further narrow the list. That left us with six core values. The executive leadership worked with marketing to come up with simple value statements that would encompass the terms but in simple wording that would be easy to remember and would be unique to our organization. The result was this:
- Do the right thing. We do the right thing, even if it isn’t always the easy thing.
- Have fun and get it done. We know when it’s time to work hard and work smart, but most importantly we know when it’s time to have fun!
- Think big. Act small. We have big dreams and goals that we’ll achieve by working together as a family and preserving our small company mentality.
- Always keep learning. Things constantly change, and the best way to be successful is through constantly learning.
PECO’s culture is entrenched in these four overarching values. They guide us in everything we do.
We started the strategic planning process with a well-defined company culture but only a general sense of our company values. We finished the values work - and our strategic planning project - with a clearly defined set of values that are unique to PECO and will continue to ensure that we are operating with the principles that our associates believe in. One of the highest priorities on our strategic plan is “people and culture”. Specifically, to attract, develop and retain the most engaged group of associates who live the PECO culture of creating the opportunity. Our defined values will help us identify those people, reinforce the culture and offer programs and services that effectively support both.
As Roy E. Disney, longtime senior executive for The Walt Disney Company and son of the company’s co-founder, Roy O. Disney, once said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”