Determining your values | S2 E7
Welcome to one of our short episodes released between our interview shows. Last week we interviewed Shira Tabachnikoff, who is Stakeholder Relations and Internal Communications Manager at ITER, about engaging multi-cultural employees and you can listen to her interview here. Next week we’ll be talking to Tanya Pakhuta about adapting internal communications to changing needs which has been particularly important over the last 12 months and we’re sure you’ll find it interesting.
Today we will be sharing a personal reflection exercise with you (which could also be used with your team if you wish) and it’s all about determining your values. A lot of clients that we work with will already have established values within their organisation. They will probably have spent quite a lot of time designing them and pulling them together. If you haven’t got values or haven’t spent time articulating the values you have, then this exercise is a good starting point. Even if you do have values this is a good opportunity to reflect and check that the values you have as your espoused values are the ones that the organisation actually use.
The problem with communicating values
We work with clients and organisations who are looking to communicate their values and the challenge with this is that we often default to using a single word value and think this has universal meaning to everyone within our organisation. They think this single word will have the same interpretation for everybody but we know this isn’t always the case. With any organisational values there is often additional work to be done to ‘operationalise’ them, to make them understood with a clear definition across the organisation. To do this well and effectively you have to be able to articulate behaviours that are indicative or not of whether you are delivering those values. This is something we do with our clients when we are working with them to create a big picture, particularly one with a strong values element. Some of the visualisation and exercises that we create with them are very much around how they operationalise their values and turn them into something that is tangible. It is then possible to observe if this is happening within the organisation.
The starting point for determining you values
Start to think about what some of the words are that you would use to describe your organisation, the things that are really important to you. This is essentially what values are. At the end of the day, we have personal values that drive our behaviour and decision making and as an organisation you have a collection of values which do the same.
The ‘Determining your values’ exercise
The exercise uses a number of different descriptor words and you will need to decide which words really resonate with you either personally, organisationally or for your team (have a listen to our previous episode about “Bringing meaning to work” if you are not clear what motivates your employees and other colleagues at work). Select three words that represent values which are the ones you would never give up, the ones that are absolutely critical to you. This selection forces you to be really crystal clear about what your organisational values are. Hopefully if you do this for your organisation and it already has some espoused values, you will find that you will gravitate towards them. But if you find that they are massively different, if you think there’s a different set of values within your organisation that’s fine. It’s alright to have local and team values but you need to make sure there is some congruence between them, differences don’t mean they are incompatible. We will be examining this issue in our next short episode in two weeks time. We will look at how you assess the existing values and compare them with the ones the organisation actually needs or has and also strategically are they still relevant?
The ‘Determining your values’ exercise is suitable to use on a personal level too as this is really important. Being able to articulate your values and find clients and customers who fit with them is an important part of being able to do your best work. They are also important when finding new employees during the recruitment process.
The resource is available to download for free from our website here.
All the exercises that we will be sharing in these episodes are really straightforward and easy to use, they have clear instructions, we’ve given you an idea of how long it should take, and we’ve ranked them in terms of difficulty from easy to challenging. The challenging exercises may need a little more time and thought.
The idea behind these episodes is that we share some resources with you that you can use and hopefully find useful. If you want to discuss how to use any of these exercises, then feel free to get in touch either via engagingic.com where there’s a form to send us comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you are finding these episodes useful and if you’ve got any feedback, we’d love to hear it so please get in touch.