Ever made a decision and you felt a little unsettled by it or can’t understand why you don’t feel comfortable in your workplace? It could be because where your values are concerned there is a mismatch.
What do I mean by this?
Every person has a set of values, that we know, however what we often don’t realise is that:
- We are not always consciously aware what our values are
- Values change over time
- When we are consciously aware of our values we make better decisions
- When we are uncomfortable in the workplace it is often because what is on the wall, neatly framed as the company values and what happens in practice are not one and the same
So what are values?
Values can be defined as the principles or standards of behaviour, one’s judgement of what is important in life, effectively your internalised rules.
As kids we are raised within a certain set of values. Some of these we internalise as our own, some we rebel against. The same applies as we mature, what was important to you in your 20’s usually changes with age and life experiences both positive and negative.
The glitch is when we are not consciously aware of, what our values are. Most people don’t think of sitting down every now and then and taking stock of where they are or completing an exercise which allows them to be conscious of their values.
Being consciously aware of your values allows for the following:
- When you make decisions that affect your life, you use your values as a tick list ensuring that your decision is congruent with who you are.
It is as simple and as complex as that. The complexity is because in every situation we find ourselves in; external factors often play too important a role in our decisions.
Let me give you an example:
In my previous career I was an HR Professional. Now one of my top 3 values has always been Integrity. For me Integrity is not negotiable. In HR you often have to balance the needs and demands of the company versus the needs and demands of the staff. Fortunately much of what I had to deal with is very neatly encapsulated in various pieces of legislation. The problem for me would be when directors choose to ignore legislation because it does not suite them. To me contracting outside of the law or infringing on rights is not negotiable. The result of this is a very uncomfortable working relationship. The solution, moving on, why, because staying meant having to follow through with actions that were to me unacceptable. It eats away at you. It can even cause illness.
Working in an environment that clashes with your values saps you of energy. The constant internal conflict creates a very unhealthy state of being. This is where you have to make a choice, either you acknowledge the clash of values and work around that or you find somewhere else to work. I would suggest the latter.
Value clashes is something we deal with everyday, it’s what causes most of the problems in relationships and I believe in our society as a whole. Why? Because people often do not respect the fact that everyone around them has a different value structure. Most people are not even aware of the fact. Judgements and assumptions are made. It becomes a vicious circle of misunderstandings.
Now that is all fine and well. You don’t want to be one of those people, so where do you start? By knowing what you top 5 values are. Yes do probably have more, however, when you start focusing on too many decision making becomes a little complex.
Knowing your values also allows you to take a look at where your life is going. For example. You might find that were you are right now you are in debt. Money may not be one of your values, and that is fine, however, it may be a good idea to consciously make it one of your values so that you can be more aware of your financial position and get rid of your debt in a planned manner.
To help you along, I have created an exercise for you. Yes, it is a little time consuming, yet once done you will feel that you have achieved something worth while.
Now that you are consciously aware of what your values are, use them to make better decisions. Complete this exercise at least once a year, more often if you have a life changing event.
Download this month’s exercise by clicking the link below