Values, What Are They And How Do You Find An Organisation With The Right Ones?

Across the globe it’s not a favourable job market for candidates. In order to progress your career, you should compromise your values and your own personal objectives and refuse to try to make a change. I couldn’t disagree more with this belief. Amidst uncertainty, there is opportunity. How? Let’s take a look.

Richard Edge
January 16, 2021

Don’t take the red pill that leads to risk and opportunity, take the blue pill and stick to what you know, continue to do what you’ve always done and stay put in your comfort zone!

I couldn’t disagree more with this belief. Amidst uncertainty, there is opportunity. There’s never been amore important time to consider your options, figure out where you should be and seek out that change and no, you don’t need to compromise your values to do it.  

How? Let’s take a look.

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do”.  Elvis Presley

I often speak with clients about them wanting to change their circumstances. One of the first questions I ask is “what are your values”. Often this comes as a surprise. However, statistically most people look to voluntary leave an organisation because their values have been breached. Often by their line manager or leader but sometimes by the organisation itself.

If values are aligned then 85% of people stay loyal and 54% will even go beyond their scope to make progress for their organisation.

They are clearly very important but when it comes to job search, whilst employers more increasingly undertake “values based assessments”, individuals rarely think of it because It falls at the bottom of their hierarchy of needs. Usually other factors like money, status, commute, etc all get psychologically prioritised. It’s understandable, after all, people go to work in the first instance to carry outa job to receive an income so it’s natural for that to come first in many cases.

However, when values aren’t considered at the outset of this new relationship it can lead to chaos which could set an individual back years. Money, status, commute are all good in the short term but for continued career progression and growth, value alignment is essential.

So, what are values, how do you figure out your own and how do you find an organisation with value alignment?

What are values?

Individual values stem from our social background, religion (if we have one), ethnic origin, culture, upbringing, education and our experiences of life and work. Individual values are not static. They continue to evolve during our lifetime as we experience new situations and people’s behaviours, particularly ones involving conflict or difference, or ones we find surprising or offensive.

Values matter because you’re likely to feel better if you’re living according to your values and to feel worse if you don’t.

How do I know what my values are?

What makes you feel good? That’s a good place to start when figuring out what your values are. More importantly I like to ask people what makes you feel bad, angry or sad. This can also help identify your values. If you felt one of those emotions, what behaviour or action led to that?

Here are some more questions to get you started to think about your values:

  1. What's important to you in life?
  2. If you could have any career, without worrying about money or other practical constraints, what would you do?
  3. When you’re reading news stories, what sort of story or behaviour tends to inspire you?
  4. What type of story or behaviour makes you angry?
  5. What do you want to change about the world or about yourself?
  6. What are you most proud of? 
  7. When were you the happiest?

How do I find an organisation with similar values as my own? 

So you’ve done the easy bit and figured out what’s important to you. Now, how do you find an organisation where you can thrive and live those values?

The simple answer is Research! For base level research you can use social media to read about what an organisation says is important.

For the next level up you can go through and read all of their publications or board papers if available and get a “feel” for the culture and the values by understanding what is on an organisation’s priority list.

For the top level of research the key is to network. Social Media is a powerful tool, especially LinkedIn. Within a few minutes you can access information about people within almost any organisation on the planet, you can see if they’ve been with an organisation a long time or not, have they been promoted, have they prospered. If they have done well, can you engage them to understand their values or even get a feel of their priorities through their own public information? If they have really prosper edit is likely their values align with those of the organisation. If you speak to 3 people within an organisation it is likely you will be able to cross reference their behaviour with that which the organisation demonstrates, and thus identify their values. Once you cross reference this you can review it with your own values and thus determine a match or a miss.

Whilst it may sound complicated, try it out once or twice with a couple of “dummy” organisations. You will be impressed at how easy you can finesse the art of research, people dynamics and cross-referencing the information that you gather.

So, what next?

You’ve found your values; you’ve found an organisation that matches your values. Now what?

You can either introduce yourself or wait for the right opportunity to be made public. Either way, it is absolutely essential that when engaging that organisation you test out your values hypothesis. This is your chance to test whether your values are aligned before you commit. If you assume there is alignment and don’t conduct a test in the recruitment process you may find once you are in an organisation that the values they publicly present differ from the reality and you may already have made a commitment that you struggle to move away from for some time.

All the best,

Richard Edge

CEO & Career Coach | Careerships

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