Mirror, mirror on the Wall
Yes, values rule us all.
By Alisa Marie Beyer
The short answer is, yes! Many psychologists believe our core values—those things which affect our personal interests and attitudes—are formed by the time we are four years old. That’s pretty young for such pivotal personality markers to take shape, yet take shape they do. And even further, it’s also believed these early formed values have the power to control 90% of our adult decisions. Indeed, our values shape and reflect every aspect of our lives, from our mood to our decision on what to eat for dinner to our choice of a career or spouse, but perhaps more importantly, our values significantly influence how individuals and teams work together—or don’t.
Many corporate executives and management teams don’t spend much time getting to know their employees, let alone diving into their personal value systems or beliefs, but they should! Understanding what drives employees to make the choices they make (from CEO’s all the way down to the newest intern), and do what they do at work every day allows managers to ensure the right employee is doing the right job, which then paves the way for your entire business to work together smarter and more efficiently.
Our personal values are the WHY behind everything we do: at work and at home, and can be measured in six areas:
- Theoretical: what would your employee be likely to do in a particular or future scenario?
- Utilitarian: how does your employee handle basic, everyday decisions or situations?
- Aesthetic: what kind of environment produces their best work: loud, quiet? Group desks or solo?
- Social: do they love being the center of attention or prefer to be more in the background?
- Individualistic: who are they and why do they love what they love?
- Traditional: are traditions important to them, or are they more open to things changing?
Knowing the answers to these questions gives managers and executive teams a means for not just getting the best performance out of each employee, but it also illuminates facets of each individual that might explain certain behaviors. In other words, the a-ha moment! Now I know why that person behaves that way…and what I can do with this information to make sure they feel supported and encouraged at work so that they will bring their A-game every day, even when it may be a high-stress time or extremely busy.
Once you understand and discover how the values of individual employees impact their own behavior and work, you can apply this knowledge to your entire team, creating accord where there may have been strife, and assigning tasks and work that are in-line with the strengths each employee brings to the team overall. For example, perhaps your HR director is a crack scout of talent and stellar at one-on-one reviews, but quivers in the corner when asked to give speeches in front of large groups. In the past, we might’ve looked at this behavior as a weakness when in reality, it’s a strength: everyone can’t be good at every single aspect of their job, and sure—your crack HR director may need to occasionally speak in front of the entire team, but if someone else on your team shines when put in front of an audience, let them handle the public speaking and let your HR director handle the one-on-one scenarios. Bottom line, you want your team spending 80% of their day doing what they love because when they do, your entire company will directly benefit. And it’s through knowing values that you can get down to this integral understanding of each employee, and how they work together towards achieving the same goals and outcomes. And that is the hallmark of a high-performance team.