Letters to my child. Leadership, Business and Kaizen.

Core Values Presentation: Three day format

Yesterday I finished my third presentation at work on core values.Here is a summary.

Goal: Ensure employees are aware of each other’s personal values and their own. Understand company values and how they can make a contribution.

Materials: Whiteboard and at least three different markers (black, red, green and blue used). One big envelope. A projector can be useful to close Day 3 with a video, but not necessary – with smartphones everywhere you can just tell them to google the video.

Duration: Each meting runs ten minutes long for a total of 30 minutes. The presentations can be given back to back but I think at least the first one should be presented one day apart from the others.

Format and Delivery: These were presented before work in an informal setting. The participants were told it was a discussion on core values, teamwork and company values.

Day One: Breaking the Ice


What and who

Set up: Arrive half hour early. Wipe the board completely clean and write at the top with a blue marker, “What is important to you?” Leave the room but the door must stay open. This is a good time to memorize the name of each participant if you haven’t done so already. Let the early walk-ins read the board. They are free to speculate where this meeting is going.

The meeting: Enter the room without any unnecessary papers. If this is a pre-shift meeting, handle business first. Let people know what they need to know (previous day results, workload and announcements). Walk to the board. If possible, remove any furniture between you and the participants.

“In the next three days we are going to talk about what is important to you and what is important to the company. I want you to think of this in the context of teamwork and leadership. Participation is encouraged at any time but I also want you to listen to each other.

Let’s start with a quick discussion. What is important to you?

As the group answers, write on the board in black. Group the words in categories in different parts of the board but don’t say anything about that yet. During my meeting they were: Family, Feelings, People, Things, Activities and Goals. If some things do not fit, leave them apart but next to group that best fits the word (in my example, “dog” was placed between people and family).

You will notice that people will follow suit; if someone says wife, the next will say husband, son, daughter, mom. Let people talk and keep writing. If you lose momentum, say “When you drive to work, what are you thinking about?” People might say, “hockey, baseball, soccer…” Keep writing.

Why do you come to work every day?” Someone might say money at this point. DO NOT WRITE that down. Money should not be a motivator. If someone says money, quickly follow up and try to word the response as a goal, feeling or activity. People might say stability, security or pay the rent (write house).

What is important to you in the long run?” Here you might get some answers that deal with retirement, kids college funds or even “more time with family”. Group all GOALS to the right of the board.

Once you get a good set of answers, with a green marker group everything under categories. Let people see it and allow them to add to the list. If needed, erase a word and group it elsewhere. You will have a chance to lighten the mood during this step… I love my mother-in-law but I put that word between family and people.

In a big group you might hear, “I didn’t know you had a kid!!” or “You play soccer?” Those comments are key to this step, specially in a group that has been working together for several years.

When the board is full, there is a sense of teamwork and accomplishment in the room.

There is one category that is a MUST, and you may not have a single entry that fits in it… if so, write that down in bold letters: VALUES.

“Thanks for participating. Interesting list. Tomorrow we are going to talk about personal values.” Draw an arrow pointing to GOALS.

“Don’t lose focus of what is important to you.”

After everyone leaves, make notes (or take a picture of the board). Go over the attendance sheet and mark down every answer that surprised you next to the person who said it. If someone said anything with real conviction, mark down next to that person too.

Throughout the day, touch base with each person to thank them for the participation. Comment on what they said but tie it to the One-Minute techniques. (read “The One-Minute-Manager”)

At the end of the day: hand out a list of 50-70 core values. You can find a list online, but print one without definitions. Ask them to pick 3-5 that are important to them. Explain they are going to share one answer with the group on day 2.

Day Two: Core Values. Providing Tools and Support


OC-31-13 Core values

Set Up: Arrive early. Write on the board CORE VALUES in red. Out of the list you handed out the day before, pick 30 that are important to you. Write those down along with as many values as you can remember. Go down the attendance list and write one value you can observe for each person.

IMPORTANT: Make it obvious that this list is not exactly the same list you distributed the day before. Either by making it a lot longer or a lot smaller. This will get people to look at the board and maybe rethink their personal list.

Ask your boss what is MOST important to him. Circle that in RED. In this step I circled RESPECT. Circle in red something that is important to you, but pick something nobody is going to pick. I chose PUNCTUALITY. Threat those are requirements.

The Meeting: Take this time to revisit the list of important things from the day before. Get them to participate by asking specifics. For example, “John, what is your daughter’s name?” (write next to daughter on the board), “Helen, what is your dog’s name?”, “Steve, you said traveling is important to you, where are you going on your next vacation?” Spent just two minutes on this, then move on.

Explain the two requirements already circled on the board. Elaborate and make sure they understand one of them comes directly from your boss. It is crucial that they understand it.

Move on to group assessment.

Go around the room and circle in blue what you can observe from each participant based on their behaviour at work. Explain that it is not necessarily their top value… if you can, support your pick. “Mark sometimes skips his break to finish his work, that shows COMMITMENT”. “Victor has not made a single data entry mistake this whole month, his ACCURACY is excellent.”

When you get to your top performer in your group, the person that above and beyond exceeds all expectations… pause and say, “Can anyone tell me what you think Bridgette values?” Let the group chime in. For your top performer, circle the least obvious choice.

When you get to your leader, or most outspoken person in the group. Pause again and let people participate. After a couple of answers, circle the least obvious choice.

Move on to personal assessment.

Address each person by first name as you go around the room asking what is their most important core value. Circle in green and write that person’s name. In a very large group once the board gets too crowded, use the attendance sheet and write the answer next to the person’s name.

“Now I want you to think about what your answers. Can you think about an example, some sort of behaviour here at work that supports what you said?” I am not going to ask you to tell me, but think for a second.

Go around the room and collect the handouts from the previous day. Make sure there is a name written at the top. Save them inside a big envelope. Treat them as important documents, do not fold them. They are going to be used at a later date to craft clear Objectives (again, read The One Minute Manager).

“Now let’s look at the requirement: [mention the core value your boss picked]”

“Can anyone give an example of RESPECT (in my case) being shown in the workplace?” Let people participate. Don’t write anything down. Just listen. At some point someone will give an example they observed in someone else, they might say “I heard someone say Jerry curses a lot, but he always watches his language around me.”

At this point, ask the group to give examples to support values listed in the self assessment portion. Get them to speak about things they observe in others. For example:

– “Lenny values COLLABORATION. I can see that. At the beginning of the day he always checks with the other departments if they need something urgent from us.”

– “Jeff values DEDICATION. Definitely. I can’t remember the lats time he called in sick.

Some people might feel uncomfortable during this step. Often times people separate work life from their personal life. A core value that is important outside work is not visible at work. Someone might be a very PATIENT father but not show any patience at work. Make a mental note if you notice people looking around at this step. Just observe, let the group talk.

Make one thoughtful observation on a participant. Someone who has not been discussed yet. Then shift focus. “I know you can find several examples outside work. If you can’t find any examples at work, you need to stop and think for a moment. Your core values represent who you are and what you stand for. They should be ever present. I am not going to sit here and pretend I know the secret to happiness. I an even argue it is not a secret at all, but I can tell you that I think being yourself is important.”

Walk to the white board where you made an arrow from VALUES to goals. Borrow from Gandhi and say:

“These should not be just words on the board. Develop them as behaviours. They will turn into a habit. habit will shape into values. These will guide you to your destiny.” Point to the board.

Keep that in mind. If anyone wants to sit down today and discuss further, my door is open. Tomorrow we are going to talk about Will Smith and company values.

Day Three: Company Values


Company Values

Set up: Day Three needs to be tailor made to suit your company. Find out what are your company values. They can be stated in their corporate website or on a mission statement letter. Ask Human Resources if they have a list. If your company is really small, ask the owner. If you can’t find that information anywhere, schedule a half hour meeting with your boss and come up with his list.

Write those values on the board. If you are working with a long list, write general corporate guidance on the left side. In my case, added value, consumer focus and people management.


The Meeting: I opened with Will Smith and shared that Will does not think he is particularly talented as an actor. I told them that in the first episodes of Fresh Prince you can actually see his mouth moving when other people are delivering their lines.

Will believed in hard work. He knew he wasn’t an actor yet, so he memorized EVERYBODY’s lines and you can see his mouth moving because in his head, he is speaking their lines so he knows when it will be his turn to say something.

More than that he is a true example of someone who really believes in a set of values and follows through. He goes as far as to say, “Here is what I believe… and I am willing to die for it.”

Will Smith: A Big Lesson

(If Will Smith is not a good example, you can adapt based on your audience, you can mention Gandhi, Mandela, Ali, Welch or Phil Jackson to name a few.)

Move on the show an example of what your boss noted as a requirement of every employee. My boss said RESPECT. So I came up with this.

“I read a book last week called, 5 Levels of Leadership. When you come to work you listen to me because you have to. I have the position. I am working to get you all to follow me because you want to [point to level 2]… but that is something we are going to discuss another day.

As I walk in this room, you may not think so but someone else also has position. The way I was raised, [name of oldest employee] has position with me. I often come to him when I need an opinion, we talk about the workload and I get his input when we have young people starting at the job.

As such I also expect him to lead by permission. I want him to feel respected and to show respect to everyone. Mutual respect is important and I want you to focus on that first and foremost.

On a bigger scale, you will see on the board what are our company values.

DIVERSITY is a no brainer. All you have to o is look around and see it is an important value for the company. You will notice that speed is not there. When I say I don’t want you to rush your work, I am in line with corporate guidance on QUALITY. When I tell you to please report damages to product or equipment and never try cover up mistakes… I ask for INTEGRITY. I know that for the past year my meetings have been very to the point… for me it is a work in progress, but I do notice when you show PASSION at work.

Up until very recently actual thought people either care about work or they don’t…. nothing I can do to change that. Well, I was wrong. My job is to make sure you care. PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT is something new to me, but I am working to display behaviours in line with that value.

Innovation and social responsibility are important too, but they can be achieved as a by-product of passion.

For now I want everyone to treat QUALITY and INTEGRITY as a requirement. It is something I want you to strive to achieve and also something that I want you to notice in other people.

As for PASSION. I know you care for what is important to you. I know you are care about your family, your dreams and goals… however, if you take one step further and if you are really really passionate, it will show in everything you do.

Thank you for your time. I am going to close with this quick video:

[Start the video a the point where will says he is passionate about living and it is not something you can fake]

Once again, thank you very much and come see me if you would like some extra materials or a recommended reading list.

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1 Response »


  1. Dealing with Difficult People: The Know-It-All | Silvio Kusakawa

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