Values in Business

“So what relevance do values have in business?” you may well ask. Apart from the obvious ethical practices within business, they have lots of relevance to the performance – and health – of both the business and its employees.

But you know this already, don’t you? And yet I wonder how much your core values influence how you are in the work you do? And how much do you encourage not only yourself but also others to work within their personal values? I know that despite knowing how supportive they are, I don’t make the most of them.

So what stops us living our values at work perfectly?
There are two sources – one is outside and one inside of us.

Let’s consider the external source first. There are various ways the external world impacts us …

  1. We’re told to work in a particular way: for instance, we may be told to never admit the organisation is in the wrong even though it may be, or that you have to work unpaid overtime even though your family life matters to you
  2. ‘This is the way things are done here’ (even though it may be contrary to avowed culture, written procedures etc): for example, cutting corners, or doing what’s good for the company and to the detriment of their customers, or taking business pens and paper to use personally at home or using work time on personal matters without permission
  3. Working within the organisation’s values: It’s fair enough that organisations have core values, which they want demonstrated in what and how work is achieved. But what happens if they become or are in conflict with your own personal values? What then? I suspect it depends how much of a compromise you have to make.

Now what about the internal source? Well …

  1. We’re great in demonstrating certain aspects of our core values, but not others: now I’m not going to repeat my capability to trust my husband on the big things but not on the little things (OK, I’ve just done it!). Another example is intuition. I know people who are great at using their intuition on small things – like bringing some bread to a friend’s picnic even though they’ve not been asked to, and then finding that the friend had forgotten to pack theirs! Yet they are very wary to trust it for the big/serious matters in their life, such as a job offer. Logically, it appears to ‘tick all the boxes’ and yet they have a felt-sense it’s not right. However, they accept the job and then find it isn’t what they expected.
  2. We’re great at demonstrating our core values in certain parts of our life, but not in others, even though we want to: so, another person I know has ‘well-being’ as one of her values. She’s really good at making sure she has a great balance between work and the rest of her life, but boy does she struggle with eating a balanced diet and the right quantity for her lifestyle! And she knows she is not living her value of ‘well-being’ for herself through this behaviour.
  3. We want others to demonstrate our core values, but don’t practise them ourselves (or only very intermittently!): for instance, ‘respect’ is a core value for one client in relation to communication. After a particular discussion about an example of conversation she gave, she recognised that she was demanding respect from others but not showing it herself. She hadn’t noticed this beforehand. Now she is committed to demonstrating respect in the way she speaks and hoping this will inspire reciprocation over time.
  4. We need to practise our values: So for this client I mentioned in point 2, it took her a bit of time first to notice when she wasn’t speaking respectfully and then learning how to speak from a place of respect. For another person, they had a core value for the rest of their life and realised they wanted to bring it into their work. It was ‘love’. And it took time to find out how they wanted to demonstrate this value at work and in their work.
  5. It isn’t always appropriate to demonstrate particular values: going back to trust, it is appropriate to not trust certain people or situations, for physical and/or psychological safety reasons. When I was working with one person (developing a metaphor for one of her values, frankness) she recognised for the first time that her frankness will be best used when she selects the appropriate situations. Timing matters.

You may be wondering why on earth we want to live our values when all this is in our way. Well, because of what living your values gives you, even when not lived perfectly! Here are some of the gifts: strength of purpose, solid foundations of confidence and self-esteem, energy, enjoyment, power, improved performance at work with less ‘trying hard’ or ‘working hard’ … and more.

So there you are! I’d love to know your thoughts/experiences of living your values. What have you gained from it – and what other internal and/or external sources do you recognise that make it difficult to live your values. DO tell me.

All the best


P.S. If you want to know more about living your values in business,


Living Your Values in Business

What you’ll gain from this event will be:

clarity about what core values are important to you in business,
• a deeper understanding about how your core values shape you – how you think, speak, observer, hear, feel and behave,
• a stronger appreciation what this can mean to you at work,
time to think about you in business, and
one particular commitment you make that will enhance you in business through the application of your core values.

And you’ll leave the session renewed, re-energised and may be even with new friends!

This is an interactive event – there’ll be some background information given, followed by a series of activities that help you gain the clarity, understanding etc mentioned above.

All this for £20 (inc VAT)!

This event takes place …
on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 starting at 7.00 pm and finishing at 9.30 pm
at Mortimer Room, Old Market, Nailsworth, Glos GL6 0DU
BOOK NOW!  Contact me, Helen Harrison, on 01453-835263, mobile 07710-124321 or