Leading a Values Revolution in Your Workplace
Editor’s Note: We are honored to run a mini-series called The Values Revolution authored by our very own leaguer, Dana Theus. This is article 4 in the series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series HERE.
If you’re leading people today, you have the problems of employee dissatisfaction and values misalignment described in my previous three posts in some measure, and it makes you vulnerable. The first and most important thing you can do to address this threat to your own success is to accept that the values revolution is real and start letting go of whatever stories you’ve been telling yourself up until now that make you believe you don’t have to deal with it.
The second thing you must do is to commit to transforming this vulnerability into strength; a strength that not only increases employee satisfaction but also engages the talents and creativity of your workforce to drive your business success.
It’s not as impossible as you think, and it all starts with you. Whether you’re the CEO or a mid-line manager, be honest with yourself and those you lead. You’ll be amazed at how quickly things can change.
Start with Yourself
Take a little time – go for a walk or have a cup of coffee alone – and answer this question: If you knew you would enjoy the same level (or more) of worldly success you have now, would you choose to stay in your current position? If the answer is wholeheartedly, “Yes,” explore the values below that you and your company share and which align you so strongly to your workplace. If it’s, “No,” identify specifically where you and your company diverged so you can begin the process of alignment.
If you knew you would enjoy the same level (or more) of worldly success you have now, would you choose to stay in your current position?
It’s important to explore your own values openly and honestly. As a human being, you are probably part of the values revolution already, whether you know it or not. Here is a short list of the values you may discover you have in common with the values revolutionaries.
- Alignment: The desire for harmony and mediating conflict to create shared vision and action.
- Creativity: The desire to experiment and explore new and different techniques in search of a vision yet unrealized.
- Design: The desire to combine function with form to create quality experience.
- Development: The desire for growth and improvement.
- Integration: The desire to be the same person (with the same values and habits of self-expression) at work, at home and at play.
- Integrity: The desire for consistency in intent, word and deed.
- Impact: The desire to make the world a better place because of your actions.
- Openness: The desire to have variation in style and technique accepted without judgment and evaluated on merit.
- Ownership: The desire for autonomy and accountability in your work.
- Profit: The desire for tangible rewards and remuneration for your contribution and success.
- Respect: The desire to be respected for what you are, regardless of what you aren’t.
Next, perform a values and culture audit on the organization you lead. Engage with your employees to understand their individual and collective appreciation of this new breed of values and how it impacts their work. Bring in outside help if you have to in order to engage in this discussion with integrity and to help you put aside the values filter that has prevented you from having this discussion effectively before. For small organizations, this can happen in conversation. In larger organizations, use research tools to help you include not only the demographics but the “valuegraphics” of your employee population. Identify the gaps between where your organizational culture is today and where it would need to be for the individual and organizational values to be aligned.
If fairly radical change is required, find a small group to pilot a controlled experiment on and release them to explore the values revolution within their group, to find success and chart a path the rest of your organization can learn from.
Make your case and stand firm in the face of resistance and confusion. Call on your own values and beliefs in the process.
Take a stand with your boss
Once you understand the scope of your challenge above, be clear with those you’re accountable to that you are intentionally evolving the culture of the group you lead. Define your scope of responsibility very clearly for this purpose and create a “culture bubble” inside which you have strong influence and outside of which you admit indirect impact. If you’re in middle management, this may simply mean informing your direct supervisor that you plan changes for your direct reports. If you’re the CEO you may be preparing the board of directors for a shift.
Make your case and stand firm in the face of resistance and confusion. Call on your own values and beliefs in the process. Here are two resources that you may find helpful:
In Part 5 I’ll provide guidance for how to use The Values Revolution to increase employee engagement and guide you towards a stronger leadership culture.
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