The Steps to Take When

Developing Team Values

Here is a quick and easy method for developing team values

Make sure you read the first article in this series before you start developing your team values. The first article provides context and examples that you should share with your team.

Below are the three steps that I've successfully used with several teams to help them redraft their values.

Before you start developing your values, here are three pivotal guiding principles:

  1. 1
    Your organization's culture drives the results your business gets 
  2. 2
    The values practiced within your team drives your culture 
  3. 3
    Leaders applying the values in their day-to-day activities inspire behaviors that achieve your desired outcomes
Organizational and Team Values Drive Culture Which Drives Results

Not sure you believe values drive results?

Imagine two car manufacturers.

One has a value of 'Quality Workmanship'.

The other a value of 'Rapid Implementation'.

Do you think they'd each deliver a different type of vehicle to their customer?

1. Imagine You are Starting Afresh

Imagine you are yet to form your team team. Brainstorm the behaviors, feelings, and capabilities you want your team members to have, so you achieve your vision. Your group will probably come up with a list of 50+ words.

Here are a few examples: Flexible, Technical Competency, Courageously Learning, Initiative, Innovative, 

2. Pare the List Down to 3-5 Values

Your group should then pare this list down to the core 3-5 values that the business will use to guide its decision-making.

This process takes quite a bit of time and will involve much discussion. 

Values are universal: We all know what makes for a good life - be it personally or organizationally. So, when developing team values, don't be surprised that your values are similar to hundreds of other companies. That's ok. However, there will be one or two in your list that makes your team uniquely you!

Potential Roadblock: Don't go for the values that get the most votes. Sometimes a value that someone has put up, but others didn't think of at the time, maybe just perfect for your team.

3. Describe the Values

Now here is where the rubber meets the road. This step, in the process of developing your values, gives you the edge. It is the difference between having a list of values, that may or may not get used, and values that inspire improved performance. We now turn the values into Guiding Principles.

To turn values into Guiding Principles, for each value, in small groups, answer these three questions:

  • 1
    Describe what ... (insert the value) ... means to you
  • 2
    Describe the behaviors you believe will demonstrate this value
  • 3
    Describe the results that will follow, by people having/using this Value

Here's an example for the value of Working In Partnership:

Working In Partnership Organizational Value

Once the small groups have their answers, come together as a larger group and decide upon the final list. This may take a skilled facilitator to bring together for you.

It is vital ALL team members have the chance to take part in Describing the Values. If you don't, you won't get buy-in. Their part doesn't have to be extensive. It  could be as uncomplicated as reviewing the final list and providing feedback. 

Or, their part could be discussing how they'll use the values. Team members will be more committed to using the values when they've had time to talk and reflect.

A Mistake to Avoid When Developing Team Values

When developing team values, don't make the mistake of putting profit as a value. It is not a value it is a goal!

Every business must make money (even non-profits) to survive. Just like you and I need oxygen to survive. But, oxygen and profits are not the reason for existence.

As Jim Collins discussed in his ground-breaking book, "Good to Great," the most successful companies did not focus primarily on profits. They stood for something bigger. Yet because of this, they were highly profitable.

Bring the Values to Life

Once you've got your list of values, use them (along with your Guiding Principles) to make the organizational design choices that support that value being used daily. Get this right, and you'll achieve the results you described in Step 3 of this process. 

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Part 1 of this article


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