What do you honor?
Say it’s something soft
By Kathleen Quinn Votaw
Honor is a “soft topic” that helped drive Fortune 500® Company DaVita from $1.5 to $6.5 billion in revenue over the past ten years. DaVita’s Chairman and CEO, Kent Thiry, insists that what you honor will grow, and he has proved his point many times over since focusing on the softer side of business. DaVita’s list of awards is lengthy: a top company to work for; top for leaders; tops in training, innovation, and sustainability; and remarkable by every other measure.
Oops, did I say “measure”? The benefits of “soft” usually can’t be accounted for in numbers, evidence to many that characteristics like honor and core values aren’t results oriented. DaVita, a leading provider of kidney care with more than 30,000 employees nationwide, tells a different story.
“Create a community around core values and everything else will come,” advises Kent Thiry, who spoke recently at Denver’s Association for Corporate Growth (ACG). Instead of focusing on revenues, he says, focus on your leadership behaviors and honoring the behaviors that demonstrate your company values. For example, if you honor the value of being on time, you’ll find that everyone is on time.
People focus on six principles at DaVita: recruit, review, reward, revere, reinforce and reality check. Their core values integrate with each principle, which means that everything from hiring to scoring is based on their values: service excellence, integrity, team, continuous improvement, accountability, fulfillment and fun. Everyone in the company gets a report card on core values.
Like a family Thanksgiving or Christmas, the company honors their values with traditions and rituals. A CEO giving out rewards dressed like Robin Hood? Yes, it’s all part of the ritual around rewarding excellence and having fun.
Honor is kind of an old fashioned concept, meaning integrity in your beliefs or values. You rarely hear the word these days except when discussing military honor codes, or in conjunction with fraternities and sororities. We should use it more in business. We talk mainly about the measureable aspects of business: product development, marketing, accounting, distribution—the things you really can’t honor. We need to realize that it’s the things we don’t talk about enough, the “soft” factors, that determine how well we do at the measurable tasks.
DaVita’s core values aren’t different from those of most companies. The fact that they honor them, openly and enthusiastically, is different.
When you think about building your business, what do you honor? What things are most important to you? When you know, “reveal it, live it, and speak your dreams to your people,” by Mr. Thiry’s counsel.
When you know and honor your “why” you can easily find the how that will yield the results you want.
Kathleen Quinn Votaw is founder and CEO of TalenTrust, a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) firm that helps companies accelerate their growth by hiring exceptional talent. TalenTrust LLC is located in Golden, CO. Kathleen is president of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), Denver. Reach Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-838-3334 x5.