Make Core Values Work for You

While flying last week, the man sitting to my left kept accidentally jabbing me with his elbow – repeatedly.

I’m empathetic; he was in the middle seat. Still, there are “rules,” and he was often in my space. With his elbow, with his newspaper, and with his leg and feet. He was a textbook example of the self-centered, inconsiderate plane passenger.

Eventually, he put the paper away, and pulled out a notebook. I confess, I peeked.

He was working on his personal values. No kidding – at the top of the page he was studying, and writing notes on, was his guiding value:

“Love my neighbor as myself”

As examples and goals, he had many lofty things written down, like “volunteer at the homeless shelter downtown.” His intentions were clear, and good, but his current product?

Inconsiderate foot, leg, and elbow contact. I wanted to chime in and say “I’ve got a GREAT idea on how you could show courtesy to your neighbor.” But that would be level two, at best, so I just huddled closer to the window.

Does your team have “core values?” Probably. But – do you live them? The best way to answer that question is to totally define what they look like in terms of work product in these three areas:

  1. Personal work
  2. Team work
  3. Customer-facing work

For example, a Group Dynamic value is “Responsive and Timely.” How does that look, when we’re at our best?

  1. I answer all email and phone communication within 24 hours at most – ideally 4 hours.
  2. My employee and I set deadlines and meet them for each other.
  3. When a client has a question, I work to answer it after asking more questions to get to the root of things.

Pick any value, and come up with work-product examples in those three areas, then give (and seek) feedback on how well they are executed.

One organization I know who does this well is Far Reach Technologies. They even have inspired art on their walls with their values, and how they look in action.

Push yourself to set values, then define them, and invoke them on a regular basis. It’s worth it.

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