What I value may not be what you value and in that simple observation is the seed of a disagreement.
Workplace values set the tone about what is most important to you and your business. It sends a message to your employees, customers and stakeholders about what they can expect in dealing with you. There are hundreds of values to choose from trust, punctuality, fun, cost effectiveness etc. The challenge for all leaders to align the right values with the needs of the business, the employees, the customers and the stakeholders.
Let’s look at an example, if you value accuracy and timeliness you are going to drive a different workplace culture than if you value flexibility and achievement.
Lets say you run a tourism business and you are due to pick customers from their hotel at 9:00am. Your bus driver arrives at the hotel to pick the passengers at 8:50, most are there but a couple are late. It gets to 8:59 and the other passengers are waiting but the missing couple are still absent. As you value accuracy and timeliness, the bus driver is clear what they have to do. He departs at 9:00 am with or without the couple.
Imagine for a moment that you valued flexibility and achievement instead. The new goals for the bus driver become getting all passengers on the bus and working around unforseen situations. You are asking your employee to perform better in many ways than if you stuck with accuracy and timeliness.
Steps to create effective aligned values.
1. Work out your values
List and prioritise the 10 values (qualities) that are most important to you. Self awareness alert – the values that bring up a lot of emotions are the ones to pay attention to. We pick up our values early and we can be emotionally tied to them even if they are too rigid for what we need today. I am not saying the strong emotions are bad or good, just ones to be aware of because they might be keeping you from seeing other options.
2. For your business to work at its best what values would be needed or helpful?
Step outside of your self and consider values that might be helpful to achieve the goals of your business. We can put or own values on to our business identity, which may not be helpful or effective. For example I may personally value low wastage at a time my business needs research and development.
3. What do my employees values?
We want our employees to fit in with us and many times they will. However they will come to your business with their own values and need help to work through the differences.
4. What do my customers / stakeholders value?
This is not what do my customers want but rather what do they value. Align with your customer’s values and you have an immediate rapport with them.
5. Put it all together…
With all the information now answer question 2 again.
You can learn new values and you can teach new values. Adopting the best values for your business may be difficult at first. The effect of well-considered values are improved engagement and improved performance. The opposite can be said as well – wrong values cause confusion and hinder performance. Stay open to possibilities and choose your values wisely.