(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by Career Engagement Group. This tech firm introduced careerCENTRE, an SaaS career engagement technology, at last month’s HR Tech conference. Their software facilitates alignment between employee and organizational goals along every career milestone – hiring, onboarding, performance and learning. Enjoy!)
Companies exist to make money. It’s an important thing for them to do. But companies also exist to do something. That “something” might be inventing a new way of doing things or producing a product that consumers love or offering a secure work environment to employees. We all realize “something” cannot happen without money.
We also recognize that there are good ways and not-so-good ways to profit and make money. One way is to threaten employees, make inferior products and cheat customers. Most of us prefer the other way – engaging employees, offering quality products and services and creating a fabulous customer experience. The first step in the process? Building an engaged workforce.
The good news is, engagement is right in front of us. Because there’s a definite link between employees, engagement and company values.
Here’s the connection: our personal values are fundamental to who we are as individuals and the things we do. We operate at our best when we work for organizations that have the same values. That sense of “working at our best” is the essence of employee engagement.
The question becomes, how do we make sure we’re hiring and retaining employees who align with our company values?
Now before we go too far down this path, it’s important to recognize that our personal values can change over time. That’s not bad. It does mean that moments may arise when our personal values and the company’s values aren’t in alignment. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. During my career, I’ve found these moments are when individuals start making decisions about their future with the company.
Let me say it again – it’s not bad. What’s bad is when people misread this misalignment. Employees call it “the company is out to get rid of me” or “my manager hates me”. Managers call it “the employee has a bad attitude” or “now they’re a slacker”.
So let’s go back to values. I asked Anne Fulton, managing director at Career Engagement Group to share with me an activity that someone could do on their own to determine their personal values. Here’s a great 3-step exercise:
- Jot down the names of 3 people you admire.
- Next to each one, jot down 3 qualities you admire about them.
- Rank the 9 qualities in order of importance. (1 = most important, 9 = least important)
Voila! You now have a list of personal values. And you can revisit this exercise any time you wish to see if your values have changed. Or maybe the order of importance has changed.
The next step is to compare these to your company values. If you don’t know what your company values are, there are some places to look for them: employee handbook, corporate reports, company website and performance appraisals. If you come up with a complete blank, think about what values you believe your company represents. Job seekers can ask during the interview process for a one-word description of the company. Those one word descriptors can often be used as company values.
Then see where the similarities and differences are. Don’t be alarmed if there’s not a 100% match! Use the activity to ask yourself if the similarities and differences make sense. Can you see specific examples that demonstrate where alignment is strong? And other examples where it’s not aligned at all?
When you think about the values that are not aligned, take a moment to consider why the alignment doesn’t exist. Before taking any kind of action, ask yourself – can I live with not being aligned in this particular value? The goal of the exercise is understanding.
Speaking of understanding, managers are a key part of the values – engagement connection. Managers should want to understand what their employees’ value. It helps them communicate more effectively with their team. If employees are struggling to figure out how they connect with the company, walk them through the values exercise that Anne suggested.
I’ve had an opportunity to test drive the values component of careerCENTRE and it’s a wonderfully flexible tool for career development. Be sure to contact Career Engagement Group and hear about how they’ve been using the tool with Coca-Cola Australasia and many more leading organisations. You can reach them via their website or on Twitter.