Aligning Values in Business

Aligning Values in Business

Our values are the core of who we are.  They are composed of our successes, failures, experiences, passion, strengths and fears.  However, there are situations where we find our values conflicting.  By conflicting values, I am referring to the internal struggle that occurs when two predominant values that you hold, are at odds.  This creates internal stress and tension that seems difficult to resolve without compromising one of your driving values.

For example, Executive Bill of Company X was unbelievably frustrated.  Members of his senior leadership team would individually seek him out to complain about other members of the team.  When the entire team came together, no one would speak up about the issues.  Because Executive Bill values relational honesty and could feel so much tension during the silence, he would raise the issues to the team.  This, however, caused a dilemma.

Executive Bill became the bad guy on the team because no one else on the senior leadership team would address the problems they had with one another. Instead of taking the moment to be honest about their relationship with one another, the leadership team interpreted Executive Bill’s actions, as him not caring about people.  In reality, Executive Bill cares a lot.  So much so, that caring relationships is another one of his driving values.  But this value was seemingly in conflict with the value of relationship honesty.

Applying Values to the Workplace

Similar to Executive Bill’s case, we all have moments when our values are in conflict, and we present a much different value picture to people than what we truly believe.  When this happens in organizations, there can be devastating effects, such as lack of employee morale and engagement, cultural segregation, decrease in retention and various other workplace conflicts.

So, how can we consistently live our values when they seem to conflict?  How do we take these values and instill it within our organizations?

Understand your values — The first step is understanding what your values are and what they mean to you.  In Executive Bill’s case, caring for relationships means being honest — whether this means telling someone they did a great job, or that you’re disappointed.  By caring about the relationship, it means addressing issues as they come up, in order to grow and get better together.

Share your values — Once you understand what your values are, share it.  By sharing it to those around you, whether it be friends, family or coworkers, it helps get everyone on the same page and create accountability.  For Executive Bill, this helps to create clarity with the team, so assumptions aren’t made.

Live your values — Do more than believe in something, live it!  This is crucial if you’re applying values to the workplace.  Generally, this involves operationalizing your values — taking them off the wall and instilling them in people’s hearts and mind.  When people live out organizational values, it creates a sense of wholeness, uniformity and can drive people towards a common goal and vision.

For some more tips on defining your culture, check out this post from the Huffington Post.

Values set the foundation for our lives and our organizations.  It sets a basis for people’s understanding of us and what we do.  By bringing awareness to this, we are able to live more consistently and create accountability for our actions and those around us.  With Executive Bill, he freed himself up to be a coach and to not take on all of the issues within the team, which required the team to raise issues with each other.  When that occurred, both the President and his senior leadership team were able to live the values of relational honesty and of caring relationships consistently with each other and throughout the organization.

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