In this article for the International Institute of Directors & Managers (IIDM), Michelle discusses the importance of values when building your team.
Creating a healthy and thriving team environment starts by understanding the values of your team members. Values underpin how a person feels, thinks and behaves, and they can sometimes be challenged in the workplace. This is particularly so when a team member feels a disconnect between their values and those of the team (and organisation).
When there’s a value disconnect, your team members may feel they have to change who they are at work. This may show up as them not feeling comfortable voicing their opinion or feeling they must support ideas that go against what they believe in.
Over time, this damages a person’s confidence and sense of self-worth. Research shows that when we stop being our authentic selves, it causes psychological distress. This distress can have ongoing emotional and physical ramifications.
In contrast, when people can live their values at work, they work more authentically and behave more consistently. These characteristics help to create better relationships and healthier team dynamics.
Our brain quickly assesses whether it sees someone as a ‘friend’ or ‘foe’. It sizes someone up and judges whether a person is ‘in my tribe’ or ‘outside my tribe’.
The brain then processes the information we receive from that person according to which category we’ve put them in. What this means in practice is that if two people are saying the same thing to you and one person is considered a ‘foe’ and the other a ‘friend’, you’ll interpret what they say differently.
When your team members know each other’s values, it builds understanding, trust and connection. It makes it easier to collaborate as the team members can better consider differing perspectives and are more ready to assume their team members have good intentions.
When your team genuinely collaborates, they open themselves up to different ideas. They also recognise that a better outcome will be achieved by securing input from a diverse range of stakeholders and having their ideas debated and tested.
Aids decision making
When people are clear on their values and how they live them, they become the guiding compass that helps them decide what to say or not say, do or not do. This applies in the work environment too.
Therefore, it helps to spend time discussing values with your team and get specific about the behaviours that underpin those values. For example, consider how values impact how decisions are made.
Through these conversations, you can strive to establish a collaborative and values-based environment. One where the outcome is about what is good (or the best possible) for all involved, rather than focusing on what benefits the few.
As a result, the team’s decision process takes a broader perspective and is more transparent and values based.
Identify your values
Once each team member has identified their values, then facilitate a conversation about how their values show up at work. Find out how they feel when using their values at work and what support they need to do this better.
This facilitated conversation is just the start, but it’s a fabulous first start in elevating connection and outcomes.
As the Dalai Lama said, “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values”.