A values based conversation

A conversation about values

For a long time, I worked in an organisation who were proud to say they were a values based work place. It was one of the things that made it a great place to work.

It was more than simply printing them onto a poster and sticking them up around the office, the values were an integral part of the conversation that shaped our direction and was the foundation for our decisions.

It wasn’t for everyone. Some people didn’t share the same values, others didn’t believe in the power they had. Over time, maybe through a process of natural selection, those that didn’t ‘walk the walk’ fell away and those who lived the values stayed. A great team was built and we achieved some pretty inspiring things.

It wasn’t always easy, challenges to your values never are, but I still look back at those times and feel incredibly proud of those people for sticking by what they believed in.

Time passed and management changed. The values shifted. They were still there, but they were different. Innovation and honesty, integrity and bravery slipped away and other things replaced them. The new values grated and chafed, they didn’t inspire me. They felt uncomfortable, like a too big pair of shoes.

Those passionate people I worked with became jaded, and over time, one by one left or moved to other roles in other departments.

In the end I left too. It was sad, in a way, to leave after such a long time, but the organisation I felt so inspired by had long left, taking it’s values with it. I wasn’t leaving that amazing place, I was leaving it’s very different cousin. Same name, different heart.

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  1. I worked in an organisation as a volunteer for 7 years and then there was a change in management. A new position opened up and they wanted me for it, so I took it. 1.5 years after that and I was itching to leave, the values had changed and the spirit had died. It was sad in a way, but not sad enough to make me regret it.
    Life’s too short to spend most of it investing in something that’s not meaningful to you.
    Hannah recently posted..Who Incites The Most ExtraordinaryMy Profile

    • You are so right Hannah, it is too short. I know exactly what you mean about it being sad, but not sad enough to make you regret it. That’s exactly what it was like. Bittersweet though, as I did miss the company that it once was – and I’m not sure that it still exists.


  2. Wow, Hannah’s comment above is perfectly apt – “Life’s too short to spend most of it investing in something that’s not meaningful to you…” So true.
    Kate Sins recently posted..day 1 | 100 Pantone postcards projectMy Profile

  3. I actually think the values part of an organisation is what makes me stick around. The role is almost not as important as the culture & people I work with. I’ve worked in some organizations that were a super bad fit for me & I moved on quickly. My first “proper” job was in strategic planning and we rewrote the vision:mission:values for the organisation. It was so incredibly inspiring and gave me an excellent grounding in things. Realistically, values are important to me in every aspect of my life – family and friends and work. I’ve never been scared to reject that which doesn’t fit with my values. X
    Cat recently posted..Party planning: Little Lion’s 1st Birthday and Naming DayMy Profile

    • Thanks Cat. I am the same – those values that I think are important in the workplace are not dissimilar to those I live the rest of my life by. I have never been one of those people who have been able to split the two easily…

  4. Hi Renee,
    I recently went through LIfe coaching and when I was asked what my values were, the only thing I could think of was all the values that had been preached to me over the years by the companies that I’ve worked for. I actually went through an exercise to identify and articulate my own values which was fantastic and now it makes making decisions so much easier as I’m clear about what I’m trying to achieve and I have the tools to ensure I stay on track. I think that in a lot of organistions, the key leader/s will determine how true or real the values will be. Values come to nothing if there isn’t a leader to hold people acountable or to drive the values when needed. It is exciting when you do find an organsation whos values are aligned with yours and a leader that inspires both!
    Suzanne Chadwick recently posted..Getting your ‘Dita’ on……Part 1My Profile

    • I agree completely Suz, once you know your own values it is so much easier to make decisions that align, ensuring you get the best out of every situation. I was also asked recently and it’s funny but I found it easier than I expected it to be – but they have been tested over the years, maybe that’s why?

      And yes, it HAS to be leader led. If the leaders are ‘walking the walk’ and being held accountable to the same values as the staff then it is never going to work. In my experience, people can see straight through those things and the only thing it inspires is a high staff turn over!

  5. So well put Renee. It is so sad to see the organisation we had worked for no longer has the same heart that use to inspire me.

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