The Importance of Values Alignment to Performance at Work

How to define and align your values with work

I Did It My Way

Values relate to our core beliefs about life and ultimately act as internal measures about how our life is going, and whether we need to take corrective action.

A Note on Inherited Values

Now, for the purpose of this article, we’ll put aside where those values came from.

Universal Human Values

The Theory of Basic Human Values, proposed by Shalom Schwartz in 1992, argued that there are ten universal values that can be organized into four higher-order groups.

1. Openness to change

  • Self-Direction Independent thought and action — choosing, creating, exploring.
  • Stimulation Excitement, novelty and challenge in life.

2. Self-enhancement

  • Hedonism Pleasure or sensuous gratification for oneself.
  • Achievement Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards.
  • Power Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.

3. Conservation

  • Security Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.
  • Conformity Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms.
  • Tradition Respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that one’s culture or religion provides.

4. Self-transcendence

  • Benevolence Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the ‘in-group’).
  • Universalism Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.

5. Other

  • Spirituality was considered as an additional eleventh value, however, it was found that it did not exist in all cultures.

Generic Values in Corporate America

When it comes to work, Fortune 500 companies share the same old recycled values.

Values Alignment at Work

When you have values alignment it’s like trying to push-start a car with two people pushing from the rear. When you don’t, it’s like one is pushing from the rear and one from the front — either the car doesn’t start or somebody gets run over.

Lifestyle Values

The final value leads me to lifestyle values — the freedom to work remotely, to work your own hours, to take time off after you’ve become a father for the first time, to go surfing when the swell is pumping, to work in another city, and so on.

Using Your Values

Clearly, at my consultancy, we’re going to shy away from perfectionists who work on things long after they’ve reached the point of diminishing returns, and instead, opt for people who like to move fast, learn fast, and keep adapting.

Co-Founder Conflicts

Similarly, if you’re starting a business and one of your core values is empathy for the customer, but your co-founder is all about making money at the expense of the customer, well it’s probably not going to be a prosperous long-term union.

  • Greater engagement
  • Lower burnout
  • Team performance

Call to Action

  • Take the time to define your individual values. Consider using the Schwartz Values Survey provided above, but also reflect on some of your deeper, more nuanced values — especially when it comes to how you work, and lifestyle factors.
  • If you’re the leader of a team, do the work to clearly define your values, above and beyond the generic, and reference this when hiring new, and evaluating your current team members.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, consider whether you are working in alignment with your values or not, and take corrective action.
  • If you’re an employee, consider whether the values of the organization align with your own, and whether or not you need to take corrective action.

Founder: Collective Campus, Host: Future Squared, Author: Time Rich & Employee to Entrepreneur. Clubhouse: @steveglaveski Visit: #MELB

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