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Your values at work and at play


When we join a company, often it is because we like the company, we fit, infact you could argue that we will be most fulfilled in our work if our values align with those of the company. So, ideally we know our company's values – if not, go find them out! 

When our values align, we feel more involved and engaged.

I’d like to share a few personal experiences.  I recall early in my career that one organisation I worked with had values around safety, respect and technical achievement, but even though I felt these values were important to me, I often felt out of step.  As I reflect on it now, I was not aligned with the actual business and the culture did not seem to line up with the values.  My values were compromised.  I felt anxious and did not feel proud of what I was working towards. 


When I trained to be a coach, I researched lots of different coach educators and found one that I immediately felt, ‘that is me’. My values aligned with the training provider and we went on to have a long term relationship.  Now I know to look for a company’s values before I engage with them.


When I work with coaching clients whether it be new managers, new employees, senior leaders, business owners or expats, we often talk about values. 

Often once my clients understand their values, they are able to put these values into practice, even if there are not experiencing a full alignment.

But in this busy life, how often do we consider what our values are?  Brene Brown talks about living our values which means that we practice them in our everyday life. This means at work we are practicing our values in how we do our work, what we want and need from our employer, the work we do, how we interact with others, how we lead, and how we behave. Values are a combination of priorities, beliefs, ideals, ethics and morals that drive your decisions and your actions.


So, values have a constant impact on your personal and professional life. Some values influence how we are – they are intrinsic – and some are more related to what we look for or need – extrinsic.


So, what is important to you? You can identify your values in different ways – using values inventories, sorting through a list of values and/or asking yourself some questions like these in the exercise below: 


Take a moment to clear your mind.  Find a quiet time when you are less likely to be interrupted. This is time for you to work on you.

- Brainstorm words that describe what is important to you in life, and work life.  Are they the same?

- Write down words and phrases about behaviours and traits you admire in your role models.

- Identify things that make you feel proud, and successful.

- Ask yourself, what makes your happy in your personal life, and at work?

- Ask yourself, when do you feel fulfilled? - Write all the words and phrases that come to you down. - Look over the words and phrases you have written.  What themes do you see in your own words?  What is significant about these themes?  - Put them into a list and separate them into ‘Extremely Important’, ‘Important’ and ‘Less Important’.


Once you have categorised your list, revisit the lists and check that they are in the correct place.  Are those in the ‘Extremely Important’ list your core values?  If not, what is missing?  Ideally you will identify up to 5 words or phrases that represent you. When you read them, you feel aligned to them; they feel authentically you.


Reflect on these and then ask, how am I living my value at work? And at play?  If you are not living them at work, chances are that things feel a little unbalanced or lack alignment.  Consider how you can bring these into the workplace.  For example, a client valued helping others and taking responsibility, liked to work on problem solving but also longed to creatively strategise.  This meant they found it hard to delegate and often got stuck in the detail rather than creating time to think strategically. Infact, their values were working against each other. We worked on how they could incorporate their values, which meant working on delegation and trust. Another client said she was not passionate about the product her company produced, yet she was satisfied with the compensation and work content.  She planned to volunteer more to lean into her value of pursuing her passions.


So, you see, your values can be aligned in and outside of the workplace.  The important thing here is to think about what your values are and to reflect on how present they are in your life and work life. 

What, if anything, can you change to be more aligned with your values at work and at play?

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