The year is ending! We recently discussed how to stay connected to meaning during the holidays. Too often, we look forward to the next year without reflecting on the year before. But, it’s just as important to look back and learn as it is to look forward and grow. This week, we are giving you a personal tool for auditing your personal values. That way, you can move into the new year with a more clear vision of what you need to be successful.

What are values?

Values are standards that we have for evaluating ourselves and others as either positive or negative. For example, if you hold the value of honesty in high regard and then a coworker is dishonest, you will likely evaluate that person negatively. Values operate under the surface. But, values can be seen in our attitudes and behaviors toward others. In the previous example, you might avoid or even fire the dishonest coworker because they don’t mesh with your values. Making sure that you’re aware of your own values and your organization’s values is key to success at work. When your values and your organization’s values mesh together, you are more committed and satisfied with your work. You are also less stressed and anxious and more motivated to do a good job. So, you should make sure that your values are aligned with your organization’s values.

values like bells
Your values are like bells – the part responsible for making the sound is invisible, but you can hear it loud and clear!

What are your values?

First, you need to figure out what you value. While you probably value a lot of things, it’s good to narrow things down to 3 values that you can really focus on. Research has shown that there are 10 values that cover most of what motivates people at work. They are: power, achievement, indulgence, stimulation, self-direction, inclusivity, benevolence, tradition, conformity, and security. While some of these may be linked together in reality, you should think about each one separately. Also, don’t be afraid to add to this list – there may be something you value that isn’t on here! 

Here are some questions to ask yourself, if you’re having trouble determining what you value most. For power, do you like to be in control of people, processes and decisions at work? With regard to achievement, how do you feel when you are not a top performer amongst your peers? For indulgence, do you think your workplace should only give employees the best of everything? In thinking about stimulation, do you like to have a routine or do you like to solve new problems every day? For inclusivity, do you want to work on a cohesive team where everyone feels welcome?

Considering benevolence, how do you feel when someone isn’t looking out for the best interests of others at work? For tradition, do you feel energized when hearing about the history of a company and how they have found success? With regard to conformity, what feelings do you have when someone plays devil’s advocate or doesn’t work to fit in with others? Finally, for security, how important is it that you feel your job and your company is a “sure thing” that isn’t going anywhere? Once you answer these questions, think about which you reacted most strongly to. Those are likely the things you value most!

candles are like values
Make sure your values are able to burn brightly or you won’t be satisfied!

What does your organization value?

Now you can ask similar questions about the place you work. Try to think comprehensively about how everyone behaves on the whole. So, consider your supervisor’s actions, your peer’s actions, and the actions of those who report to you. You will understand what is actually valued in your company if you ask these questions. 

Do employees crave promotions and titles? Do employees clamor to be recognized as top performers? Does the company reward employees with lavish things or do they throw lavish parties? Does the company focus on the status quo or on shaking things up a bit? Are employees free to act authentically at work? Are people kind to one another or are they competitive and political? Does the company have a strong “way things are done around here” mentality? Do coworkers ostracize those who look or act differently than the rest of the group? Does the company frequently let employees go or discuss negative financial performance?

Do Your Values Match with Your Organization’s? 

Now that you have completed the values audit for your company and for yourself, it’s time to compare! What were the top 3 things you valued? What seems to be valued most in your organization? Are your values and your company’s values aligned? What is missing? If there are things that you value that aren’t on your organization’s list, you might want to think about how to find more of that value in your personal life. Or you can start looking for ways to discover that value in your current role. Finally, if things are really misaligned, you might think about finding a position or company that is more aligned with your goals. Cheers to a valuable new year!!

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