One of the most powerful tools that I've started using in my career development and for improving my job satisfaction has been in defining my work values. By having a clear view of my personal motivators I have learnt to make better choices about not only my wider career journey but also for more specific day to day decision making.
So how do you go about figuring out what your values are? Well there is no amazing golden bullet or process but here are some of the ideas I that have used that have helped influence me in the process of finding my values;
Undertake a values dump
The first process I used to determine my values was a 'values dump'. I had used it previously when I was trying to determine my home life values as part of the One of Many Be Fruitful program and thought it would be a good starting point for looking more specifically at my work values.
The aim is to write out as many values as come into your head and then when you think you've reached your limit try to push through for another 2 or 3. Then again when you think you've reached a limit push through again for another 2 or 3. You can repeat this process until you feel fully drained.
While a great starting point it did mean that I ended up with two pages of potential values and I struggled to see how I was going to prioritize them. That's when I discovered values worksheets.
Undertaking a values worksheet
Once I had a long list of potential values I downloaded a value worksheet, freely available on the internet. The aim of the worksheet process is to rank various drivers in relation to your life and career and then hopefully find a few that you really identify with as being your main values because they are most important to you.
I was able to take the results of the values worksheet and compare it to my values dump and I started seeing overlaps between words to really determine my underlying values. This helped me reduce my values down to 10 - still too large a number for me to truly live by but a significant reduction from the 60 I previously had from the values dump.
Drill down to what really drives your discretionary effort
My next step was to separate out any aspirational values that I was unlikely to ever really be able to live by and focus on five values that could really help me be the best I could be and help guide my discretionary effort at work.
That's when I found Amazing If and their great three point plan to determining your values;
1. Figure out when you are happiest at work
2. Figure out when you have been most frustrated at work
3. Determine some common themes from Step 1 and 2
4. Summarize your potential values
I was able to take the the results from the above process combined with my existing list of potential values and really figure out what values I most use when I am in 'flow' - by that I mean work that is easiest to me and has the highest value to myself and my stakeholders. I was then able to refine my list of 10 values into the 5 key drivers of my discretionary effort at work.
Once I had figured out my top 5 values I found two things really helped me consciously live them - vocalizing and visualizing. I make sure that my colleagues understand what my work values are and how I use them by actively discuss them at every opportunity, and I encourage my staff to develop their own values. Vocalizing my values allows them to become part of me, something I actively use of a day to day basis. I have also started more recently to visualizing my values - both at work and at home. This is because in the heat of the moment it so easy to forget what should be driving your decisions and having a visual aid helps me avoid making poor choices under pressure.
The process to find my values wasn't quick, in the end it took over six months, and I would say I'm still refining a few of them but the process has definitely helped me figure out what my personal motivators at work are and how to make better choices for myself both in terms of career development and also on a more day to day basis.
All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.