The value of something can change quite rapidly.
I was reading an article recently where a landlord had withdrawn his property from sale as he suspected its value had increased somewhat dramatically. What had changed? An artist called Banksy had painted a picture on the side of his building, and the painting was now quite possibly worth more than the value of the building itself. The value being determined in this case by what someone is prepared to pay for the painting.
Values are about worth. You will have personal values that drive whether you will or you won’t do something. Organisations and teams also have values, either accidentally or with intention. They will be the guiding principles that determine the culture of the team and organisation. One thing is certain: for values to have any significance they need to be clear.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Roy E. Disney
In my new book, I See You, I explore the truth that values are about worth: “it follows those values are beliefs and behaviours that have worth to the team or organisation implementing them. They are beliefs and behaviours that a group of people at an organisational and team level can agree to and can be held accountable to.”
Values define the identity of your team or organisation. Values are what your organisation, whether for profit or not, become known for. Think about Apple for instance, Steve Jobs went out of his way to give consumers something different, not just a computer, as they state “we build products we believe in, we are here to make a positive difference in society.” They know their why. Consumers are not just buying a computer they are buying into a lifestyle, a philosophy determined by values.
Determining Your Values
Values can be powerful, and if clearly articulated and shared, will be a key component in building the culture of the team.
How do you determine the values your team or organisation is going to stand on?
Here are a few key principles to think about as you look at your values. Greater detail can be found in my book.
- Clarity & Focus – For values to be of any worth they need to be clearly articulated and agreed upon. Agreement is key. The values should reflect how the team wants to behave and what they believe.
- Not too many – You shouldn’t have too many values. Remember clarity is key. You can build the meaning of the values but short phrases or single words work.
- Involve the Team – You want the greatest possible ownership, this is easier if the team is involved in their formation. They will then champion your values to newcomers.
- Foundational – Like a building’s strength is in its foundations a team’s strength comes from their values. They become part of their identity.
- Standards – Values need to be specific and they must specify behaviour. Being clear about the values held will mean that the team can hold each other accountable for them.
- Common Bonds – The values will be the common language that the team adopts. The values convey the way in which you care about each other, the work you do and the way you will interact with the clients you serve.
“Shared values are the foundational pillars for building productive and genuine working relationships.”
Kouzes & Posner
In this world of remote teams, the good news is that shared values will transcend any geographical space in the team. Because they are known they can act as internal compasses for each team member. That is why it is important that the values are visible and shared often.
You care about what you measure. Whatever the shared values of the team are, for them to be adopted and used requires team members to be measured against them. In that way team members know these are things that matter.