Work Your Core
Thom Geshay, President, Davidson Hospitality Group
April 2, 2021
When you Google “Core Value” in Miriam Webster’s latest online dictionary, you get an error message that says, ‘the word you’ve entered is not in the dictionary.’ But if you dig deeper and look up the words individually, you have a little more success. “Core”, as it turns out, has multiple meanings, and “Value”, has even more. The ones I want to zero in are as follows:
Core: a basic, essential, or enduring part. The inmost, or most intimate part
Value: something (such as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable
Well, it appears you have to work pretty hard using the dictionary to understand what core values are, but at Davidson Hospitality Group, it’s very clear what our Core Values are. Why? Because we wear them like a badge of honor. We post them for all to see. And we talk about them regularly. Every week at the corporate office during our Monday morning stand-up calls, either I or someone from the corporate team presents an example of a core value and what that value means to me/them. At our properties, in stand-up meetings from coast-to-coast, the Davidson Core Values are discussed and demonstrated.
A business book I recently read gave the best summation of what Core Values are: The core values of an organization are those values we hold which form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us that throughout the changes in society, government, politics, and technology they are STILL the core values we will abide by. In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work.
As most of you know, we recently set out to refine Davidson’s core values. Over time, we had established 2 sets of core values to represent two different operating verticals. And we were sitting at the doorstep of launching a third operating vertical and I was fearful this meant then a third set of core values was in our future. So we needed some input on how to address this pending situation, and we decided we needed to ask the experts of our core values at the epicenter of our culture; our team members.
We polled all team members company wide, both in the field and in the corporate office, and asked for input on all our core values. We asked all team members to rate and rank the importance of each of our core values, and also asked for open input to introduce any new concepts or values that were important to the Davidson family. We chose to run the process this way so that we could ensure the values were driven by the team members in the field, rather than decided upon by leadership in the corporate office. We needed to do it this way to ensure that the foundation upon which we conduct ourselves and our business is authentic to the people that make up our great company.
I could not be happier or prouder of what the Davidson team produced in the end. The result of all the polling and the reading of hundreds upon hundreds of comments made it very clear what we needed to do to re-define our core values; we needed to stick with the ones that resonated the best and caused the most favorable emotion with our team. The end result is an ideal blend of six core values; ironically three each from our former 2 sets of values. As it turns out, what we had all along was a representation of who we are as a company and how we conduct our business. What a satisfying and fulfilling revelation.
However, there was one concept that has always been implied in our core values but never said bluntly and openly that came up on many of our surveys. And that is the importance and value of a diverse and inclusive workforce in our company. An area we talk about, are proud of and one we desire to be a leader in industry. And while intrinsic to our business, experience and core values, we had not made it a badge of honor like our other core values. So based on all the feedback, we decided it was right to add a 7th core value that made it clear that if you want to be a part of the best hospitality team in the industry, you have to be comfortable working in a diverse and inclusive work environment, because that is what Davidson supports and stands for.
I want to thank the thousands of team members who participated and gave honest feedback to assist in refining our company core values. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by the passionate and talented team that serves our owners, guests and brand partners every day. I’m humbled by the talent in our company, and I’m proud of the character and integrity by which they conduct themselves at our properties across the country every day. We’ll continue to win, if we work our core.
Davidson Hospitality Group Core Values:
1. Be Passionate about what you do, Serve Others with LOVE
2. Always Do What’s Right
3. Create Value in all you do
4. Have Each Other’s Back
5. Be Inclusive, together we are stronger
6. Stay Hungry, Stay Humble
7. Greatness Requires Risk