The Importance of Values
Our behavior is largely driven by our own personal values. No matter if we are aware of them or not, they define how we act in certain situations. When we are able to live our values, we are usually happy, and when we are happy we have a greater chance of being focused and productive. As soon as our personal values are violated, we can become unsatisfied, which can lead to a drop in our motivation and therefore our performance. Imagine a pacifist working for an arms dealer, or an animal welfare activist working at a company operating intensive animal farming.
Therefore, when you start in a new team, you definitely need to know the values of your peers. This will enable you all to build mutual respect for one another, and will highlight the red lines you need to be conscious of when engaging with one another.
How to Identify Your Values
Management 3.0 describes “core” and “wish” values. Core values are the ones you already live. They are what defines you today. Wish values are values you want to concentrate on going forward. They are what you aspire to become. You can define both sets of values for an individual, a team, or a whole organization. In this article, we focus solely on individuals because this is your greatest challenge in a new team.
When learning about personal values, you can either run a workshop with your new team, or you can start a series of one-on-one sessions with everybody. I prefer workshops, please be aware though, that they require a basic amount of trust to begin with.
To get started, allow everybody time to look at a list of values (e.g. https://management30.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/big-value-list-management30.pdf). While such a list is never complete, it helps everyone consider values that are not necessarily immediately present in their minds. It broadens your thinking. Extend the list if you like (for example, in our team we have the values of “we-never-walk-alone” and “get your boots dirty”). Then, write down between three to five values that resonate most with you today. These are your core values. Repeat this for your wish values.
Working With Values
Once everybody knows their core values, you need to share them. Talking about them is what creates trust and allows you to get to know your peers. Join in pairs and explain what is behind each value for you personally. Share stories and examples, to make it more tangible. You can ask questions about what you hear, but you are not allowed to question the other person’s values, and definitely not diminish or ridicule them in any way. They are not yours and you must accept them as they are. Once each pair finished up, circle around until everybody has talked to each other person present. Repeat this process for the wish values, if you like. Just make sure you don’t talk about too many of these – I recommend you to focus on the most important one or two, and use timeboxing to manage the length of the conversations.
If you are a normal human being, you will have a hard time remembering everything. Therefore, visualization is essential. Start with a flip chart and ask everybody to represent their personal values using images and words. This visual depiction is easier to remember and you can take pictures if everybody allows for this. It can also be helpful to provide creative image cards with interesting photographs, that the participants can choose from to help describe their values.
Advanced Trust Levels
Conducting such a workshop already goes quite a long way to build trust in your team. If your team already demonstrates a high level of trust, you can build on this further still. I love to create “baseball cards” with my peers – one for each team member. Make them small enough to fit into your pocket. Use the card to visualize each person – it can include a picture of the person, her values and personal strengths.
When conflicts arise or problems need to be tackled, you can use these cards as a facilitation tool and reminder: Who has the strengths we need for this challenge? Did the conflict arise because a value was violated? How did this happen, and what can we do to improve our interactions in the future?
Values are very important, even if we are often unaware of them. If you start in a new team, it is essential to get to know each other’s values in order to collaborate productively. Take the time to talk about your individual values, and in doing so you will go a long way to building a basis of trust across the whole team. The Management 3.0 format above gives you a great starting point. Try it out yourself and create value for your team by understanding each other’s personal values.