In a recent survey we identified the key benefits of having a person’s values aligned with their work.
- Higher levels of belief to achieve work goals
- Higher levels of hope to achieve goals and work towards values
- Greater resilience when confronted with obstacles or challenges
- Actual Goal achievement is higher if the goal is connected to an individual value
- Overall wellbeing significantly higher
Did you know that around 60% of the western population spend close to 60% of their waking hours at work. It therefore seems important to find ways to improve your experience of going to work. Do you have a clear view of your values and how they show up at work?
In my past career in recruitment I interviewed hundreds of people, possibly in the thousands, and my experience was many people were “checking their values at the door each day” as getting paid seemed more important. This experience is called cognitive dissonance. What you might not know is if this experience goes on for too long you may be risking your mental, physical and occupational health! However I also believe ignorance is bliss (temporarily) and I completely understand how confronting it can be to even admit you are unhappy with your job, workplace or career. I have been there, and it was a huge decision to leave a job and industry that I knew well, was comfortable and paid me well. I think Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, perfectly surmises this dilemma.
Cognitive dissonance is where a person has an internal conflict or dilemma with their beliefs and behaviours. We see examples of cognitive dissonance when people are trying to quit smoking or drink and eat less as many of us have an underlying belief that the behaviour/action provides some benefit or value (e.g, relieves stress). However we also know that there are many other harmful effects from smoking, drinking and over eating.
In the workplace have you ever said to yourself on your way to work “I don’t trust my Leader” or “I disagree with where we focus our time and energy”, or “I am not valued nor respected” but show up to work anyway, sometimes with a smile? To relieve the discomfort I have seen people rationalise or lie to themselves saying things like, “it isn’t that bad” or “No, I do love this job!”.
I believe we do this, because we believe we have no other choices or options. Many people take it the next step and anaesthetise these thoughts through food, smoking, and alcohol or just completely disconnect by saying to others or themselves, “I am too busy to even think about this!”. Perhaps you have noticed your team or colleagues doing or saying these things. All of this leading to increased stress, and if ignored can lead to burnout, bad performance and loss of employment. However there is a way out!
In your work, are you maximising your potential, and your team’s potential? And if not, how does this impact other aspects of your life, the working environment and results? Do you know what your values are when it comes to work?
Below are 4 easy steps to identify your Values and how they relate to your work.
Step One: What are my values?
Do you know your broader values? Values are not a goal or a mission statement, they are more of a fluid behavior or way of life that is important to you. The Oxford dictionary defines a value in two ways; (a) the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something; and (b) principles or standards of behavior, one’s judgement of what is important in life.
So how do we get clear about what is truly important to us with so much “noise” around us telling us what our values should be?! Here is a somewhat unusual and sometimes confronting exercise, that I know helps uncover values.
Your Epitaph: Get a piece of paper or a page on your preferred device. List these questions and over the next 24 hours imagine you have the opportunity to write your own Epitaph and start scribing your answers as they come to mind.
1. List your accomplishments
2. What will people miss about you and what you valued?
3. What gave you the greatest joy and sorrow in life?
4. Who did you help?
5. What were you known for standing by or for?
Step Two: Defining my Values.
Once you have completed the above step, summarise what appears to be consistent, repeated or distinct themes, into 3-5 statements on the left hand side on a new page. These might be several statements about family members or behaviors that were important you followed. For example:
1. Providing my family opportunities to achieve their greatest potential
2. Always willing to go the extra mile
3. Took pride in my health and encouraged others to do the same
4. Being a responsible and supportive parent and member of my community
5. Recognised as a leader in my field
Step Three: What do my values look like at Work?
Once completing the above, on the right side of the paper describe what each of those statements looks like if you were behaving that way today, in your work environment. Using the same ones above this may look like:
1. I am showing my family that their individual potential can be reached, by leading by example as I focus my energies and attention in achieving my potential on a daily basis.
2. As often as possible I find myself looking for opportunities to improve and develop my skills, and do an extra 10% more than is expected of me each day. Even on the tough days.
3. I make time every day to take care of my health through eating well and exercise.
4. I prioritise my week so that I spend time with my family and, or local community.
5. I make time to keep up to date with my industry and look for opportunities to help and show others how to be experts in their field.
These are just ideas and your may be very different. What is important is when you read them that feeling in your gut feels more like passion or excitement. Put them somewhere where you can read them every day. Some people put them as a reminder on their phone. Very important!
Some days you may achieve all of the above, while you may find most days you may only achieve one or none.. and that is okay! Simply notice what shows up for you in your gut, your thinking and the outcomes around you each day as you start moving towards your value statements.
Step Four: Is there a conflict for me?
In your current job, work or career are you able to act, be and behave as you have listed in your above statements? If most of these are being satisfied, this is great news for you. If not, firstly consider if there is a way you can “bring” these to work every day. Most people I work with, are often pleasantly surprised to discover that they have more influence over their workplace than they first thought. If you are a Leader do you know if your people are coming to work with genuine passion and excitement? Many people leave their job due to a poor relationship with their boss. Check out my blog on Do people in your organisation leave because of their Manager? It also may be time to consider new horizons, where you can work towards your values.
If you have returned to work after a break and simply need to get back your mojo for yourself or your team read my blog New Year! New Career or Attitude?
CIT’s mission is to help individuals have greater prosperity in their work. My research, experience and own personal journey is what I have developed for people who would like a happier and healthier career. We are here to help. I trust this information leads to you having a Prosperous Year.
Leadership Coach | Workplace Psychologist