Values are beliefs about what is fundamentally important. They affect your decision-making and your behaviors, whether you are conscious of them or not. Your real values are reflected by your behavior, and if your espoused values are not consistent with your behavior, you will lose credibility and trust.
The same is true for teams. When a team identifies and commits to living shared values, there is a deeper level of trust, better problem-solving and increased collaboration.
Team values are more than just a collection of the values of individual team members. Team values are reflected by the general pattern of behaviors of team members. They might not be explicitly stated, but it is possible to observe the general norms of behaviors to tell what the values are. Are people respectful toward each other? Do they push boundaries or are they conventional? Do they avoid conflict or is conflict surfaced and addressed?
Team Values and Purpose
To be most effective, team values should be consistent with the personal values of the team members and also the purpose of the team. For example, if you are an accounting department and see your team purpose as collecting and organizing financial information, partnering or collaborating with others won’t be as important as being accurate and dependable. On the other hand, if you see your team purpose as “providing information and advice to guide leaders in wise financial decision making,” then partnering and collaborating with business leaders will be essential for your team’s success.
Team Values and Company Values
It’s important to consider how your team values support the purpose or mission of your company. For example, if your company operates a cruise line, safety and entertainment are likely to be core values. The accounting department will need to consider how these values translate to their own department. Safety might translate to fiscal responsibility. Some values like entertainment might not translate to a core team value, which is fine. However, even if it is not a driving value for your team, it must still be respected or conflict will arise.
If your company hasn’t articulated values, don’t wait.
Consider your sphere of influence, and within that sphere, work with your team to identify your team’s values. As your team consistently lives its shared values, those who are impacted will notice, and interest and energy will spread. At the very least, you will have strengthened your own team. And you might be pleasantly surprised to discover that others will begin to change as well, because change does not have to begin at the top of an organization.
7 Guidelines to Create Shared Values
1. Don’t assume that any values are simply “understood.” If you think something is already understood, it needs to be named as an important core value. If some form of integrity or ethical behavior is not identified as a core value, you will eventually find yourself in a downward spiral.
2. Involve your team in identifying the values. You can’t impose values on others. When you surface the values that your team cares deeply about, they will commit to living them.
3. Don’t make a laundry list. Focus on the shared values that are the key drivers to fulfill your team’s purpose. There are usually only three to five core team values. You don’t need to include each individual’s personal values, as long as there are no values conflicts.
4. Translate the values into observable behaviors. Providing behavioral examples helps your team understand what the values look like when they are being lived.
5. As a leader, model the values consistently. People watch what you do more closely than they listen to what you say.
6. Integrate your stated values into your daily processes and practices. Refer to your values when it’s time to make important decision. Talk frequently about how they are reflected in your daily work. They will not be effective if they are seen as something extra or “soft.”
7. Don’t ignore a values breach. If a core value has been violated, address it immediately. No one is exempt. Too often bad behavior of “high performers” is ignored, which in the long run undermines your entire team.
Jesse than you and welcome back. Yes values need to be shared with the entire team and are non-negotiable. This has not be confused with goals. Every employee in the company needs to live these values, hence they are SHARED VALUES.
You make an important distinction about the difference between values and goals. Values arise from our deeply held beliefs about what is important. Goals are targets and milestones. When our goals are aligned with our values, we are more deeply committed to them and more likely to accomplish them. Thank you for asking about my blog, Bharat.
Very helpful guidelines. I’ve sent this to my team and plan to discuss what we are doing and can be doing. Thank you!
Excellent idea! So glad you found this helpful.
Great to hear from you. Appreciate you for sharing your experience and wisdom.
My pleasure, Stefan.
So happy to see you are back to sharing, much-admired friend Jesse Lyn Stoner. Also to boost creation of shared visions it helps to make it a habit to seek sweet spots of mutual interest in conversations and meetings. Also to strengthen the value of the shared vision, cultivated diverse allies, friends and colleagues, thus being collectively able to see more sides of a situation (a potential problem, opportunity or core mission) and thus collectively able to make smarter decisions and characterizations faster. Hint: cultivate a culture where folks adopt a mutuality mindset 🙂
Many thanks for your insights, Kare, on the relationship between a mutuality mindset and shared vision, the importance of diversity, and the powerful outcomes of these in combination. Your points are well stated!
Welcome home, Jesse! Missed your wisdom, as always. Two areas that you brought up would have been very helpful if one of the organizations I addressed had paid: Specifically: translate the values into observable behaviors and if there is a breach, address it immediately. For example: respect for each individual can be shown through consideration listening, helping without being asked to assist, empathy for an individual’s home situation (such as a sick child or dying parent)… When people feel dismissed, that’s a breach. Behavior tolerated is behavior accepted.
Very helpful illumination of the importance of these guidelines. Many thanks for sharing your wisdom, Eileen!
So well put on a vital topic Jesse Lyn Stoner.And when an organization teaches employees how to see sweet spots of mutual interest with each other, inside and outside their firm, they can collectively see more sides of a situation (potential problem or opportunity) and thus make smarter decision faster. And each time they do they strengthen these healthy relationships, boost their learning, sense of purposefulness and individual and shared pride. Hint: adopt a mutuality mindset. Healthy relationships are not based on a quid pro quo yet an ebb and flow of mutual support over time, as you well know, Jesse 🙂
Indeed, a mutuality mindset is based on finding shared values and provides the foundation for collaboration and unleashing the power of diversity.