Values

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Let’s talk about values.

Dont worry, I’m not going to inflict mine upon you. I’d like to hope they show through in my personality and work anyway.

No, let’s just talk for a bit about the concepts of personal values, corporate values, and how it feels when there’s a mismatch or disconnect between the two.

It’s become quite a thing for companies to very publicly tout their corporate values. But it hasn’t always been that way. One of my previous employers made no great public declaration of theirs; I worked there for over 6 years, and couldn’t tell you what they were.

Another employer made a great deal of those, and, to be fair, they resonated. From that short list, I surmised that they operated in a way I would like to be a part of. 

Strangely, I was happier in the place with the undeclared values. People just did their thing, and in the main, humanity won out. People are people, and most of them were just generally nice to work with and be around.

In the other place, a weird thing happened. Instead of being an inclusive ladder to help people up, the values sometimes became a hammer to beat them down. If somebody acted in a way that the hierarchy disapproved of, then that was considered non-values-driven-behaviour. In retrospect, I don’t remember any pre-employment interview questions designed to check specifically and exclusively whether or not an individual’s personal values were aligned with the company’s. Targets were all about performance, and there were no awards for ongoing daily displays of values-driven-behaviour. Just sanctions for perceived deviance from the subjective corporately-skewed interpretation. The one that translates as “You didn’t give me what I want, therefore you are not living the values.” There was no incentive to just do the right thing.

Which brings me on to my current employer. Me. 

I’m so very nearly 40, but in entrepreneurial years (which are the opposite of dog years) I’m very young. And maybe naive. But I love the idea that in this life I can be truly values-driven. And it doesn’t matter what those values are. We all need to make a living, but I now have the choice of whether or not I work with/for an individual. If I abhor everything they stand for, I can walk away. If I really  like the cut of someone’s jib, I can offer discounts and incentives to make it possible for us to work together. And the great thing is: it doesn’t matter what those values are.

Internal turmoil ensues when we find ourselves acting in ways that we wouldn’t consciously agree with. When we strive to deliver objectives that mean nothing to us as individuals. When we cease to recognise ourselves.

I really hope that I can hold onto those ideals. When money is tight, and clients are difficult to find, I’d like to have the courage of my convictions, and walk away from any arrangement or relationship that makes me unhappy. Only time will tell, but my experience so far is that this world of start-ups and small businesses is littered with nice people who want to do the right thing. And it makes me very happy.

It would be great to hear your thoughts, opinions, and experiences. Do please comment, or contact me privately if you’d like.

Until next time: Be excellent to each other!