Your Values and Your Job

What do our values have to do with our job or career satisfaction?

Most companies that you work for will have some sort of Mission, Vision and Values indicated somewhere.

They might be on the website, in the employee handbook or, like some larger organizations, have them carved into the wall when you walk into the building!

This is great, as these elements are the compass through which the organization makes all of it’s decisions (or at least that’s what they should be doing).


But did you know that we all have our own personal values that drive our decision making?

It’s true, and it’s often the first thing to kick up a warning flag when we start to make decisions based in fear, judgement or other factors that aren’t rooted in our values system.

Listen to the Get More Podcast Episode 53. Do You Know What Your Values Are? here.

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. This applies both to day-to-day decisions and to larger life choices.” envatotutsplus.com

If our values drive our decisions, what does that look like during our regular day-to-day activities?

Personal Values

Sandra is an account manager for a large organization and part of her role is to manage two dozen client accounts.

Part of her role is to compile data on the progress that has been made throughout the month, and present it to each client in a monthly review; yet the last month hasn’t been very good on two of the accounts.

The reasons for the lack of progress are valid, and there has been some movement in parts of the account, however her boss has asked her to, “only include the positive progress” so that the clients don’t get upset with them.

If honesty is part of her value system then Sandra is going to feel very uncomfortable with this request, as it is not in alignment with her values.

This leaves her in the position of choosing to either compromise what she believes to be important, vs following through on what she has been asked to do by her boss.


Have you found yourself in this kind of situation before, where you were asked to do something that you really didn’t feel comfortable doing (but couldn't quite articulate why)?

Many of us are faced with difficult decisions throughout the day, both in our personal and professional lives, however the level to which we feel fulfilled, happy, and productive has a lot to do with how closely aligned these decisions are to our own value system.

So What Are Your Values?

Many of us have never really thought about what our personal values really are, yet if you take a moment to think about the things that make you really uncomfortable, the clues to what you value are there.

For example, have you ever felt this way:

  • You see or hear someone being yelled at and you don’t stick up for them and feel guilty later for not doing so.
  • What you want to do, and what you choose to do, are two different things and it frustrates you.
  • You spend much of your time trying to please others and ensure that their needs are met, even if it means sacrificing your own.
  • You look for any excuse possible to avoid going to your job.
  • Insensitive or harmful jokes are made and you don’t speak up.
  • The people around you gossip a lot and expect you to take part, even though you don’t want to.

These situations, and many like them, are just a few examples of instances where you will ‘feel’ uncomfortable, or nervous, or anxious and not really know why, other than you, “just don’t like it”.

This is a pretty good place to start exploring to discover what the underlying personal value is that is being bumped up against.

Your Values At Work

It’s no secret that many of us need to work and will have to make decisions between what’s available, and what we are interested in.

Depending on where you live in the world, there may not be as many options as you would like when it comes to employment choice.

However, it is important to note that while industries and positions may differ, the fundamental values of an organization really do matter when it comes to whether or not you will be happy or fulfilled over the long-term.

If an organization's values don’t align with your own, it will require a large amount of effort to keep showing up each day and contributing to the success of a company that you just don’t believe in.

It also gives us a bit more insight into why disengagement, work-related stress, anxiety and burnout are on the rise; it’s hard work to spend time in a place you just don’t want to be in!

Here is an example of the KPMG values:

kpmg.com

So What Happens Next?

You may be asking yourself the question, "If you find yourself working in a place whose values just don’t align with yours, you should quit right away?"

Great question, but absolutely not! 

Again, as we said in the beginning, we all have a living to make.

However it is an indicator that it may be time to start looking around to find an organization, or opportunity, that is in closer alignment with what you believe in.

Even on the hard days when the work is too much and the help isn’t enough, or the systems are crashing and it’s impossible to get work done, or a temporary bad hire is made, when your values align with that of the people around you it’s much easier to stay resilient when things get difficult.

As you make your way through the day today, pause for a moment and look up the values of the organization that you work for.

Look past the position you are in or the responsibilities that you currently have (because titles and duties change all the time) and ask yourself if you believe in what they stand for.

Next take a look at whether or not the organization as a whole is living up to its stated values each day.

If you find that it’s a nope for either (or both) then that is usually your cue to start the ball rolling on making a move.

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Categories: Career & Business