What are your Values?
Sometimes, it is easy to overlook this aspect when we evaluate our Life-Goals or Career plans. What do you stand for? What do you stand against? What goes against the gr
ain of your personal (or religious) belief system?
However, as we plan our Career Strategy™, we need to have a firm understanding on our values and what is really important to us, otherwise, the Strategy will not be sustainable and may lead to high levels of cognitive dissonance.
As far as career planning is concerned, it is important to articulate your value system clearly, instead of leaving it as a poorly defined list of ‘maybes’.
Values can be viewed as (i) Personal, and (ii) Corporate.
(A) Personal Values
Most successful Executives feel that their jobs should be congruent with their personal values, otherwise, they may never be at peace with themselves and this feeling may slowly rob them of any joy they have in the role.
One of the key questions you have to answer is whether the industry you are in or are about to join has values you share.
There are individuals in the market who simply refuse to work for Tobacco or Gambling companies simply on the principle that these industries are unwholesome and thrive off the misery of fellow human beings.
No matter what the salary or perks may be, drawing a salary whose source is inevitably derived from the suffering of others might seem offensive to some.
Besides the type of industry, the type of role could also matter.
Some individuals find it troubling to sell time-share or multi-level-marketing products as they may not fully subscribe to that business model.
Sometimes, your values may be deeply personal but could also extend to the people whom you work with.
Does the boss or team you work with, share your values? Do they respect each other in an encouraging manner like you do, or is it a very impersonal, performance-driven environment that is harsh to mistakes and non-performers?
Work-Life balance can also be an important value to consider.
From flexi-time, to unrecorded family leave, to work-from-home arrangements – how much of it would you like, and will the company agree to it?
Perhaps you are planning to start a family within the next three years and may need more family time or maybe your children have all grown up and you feel you can refocus more of your energy and time on the business, hence you wouldn’t mind a less family-friendly environment.
Sometimes, the degree of work-life balance could even be a deal-breaker for your new role depending on which phase of life you are presently in.
(B) Corporate Values
On a larger scale, your personal values should also extend to the company you work for.
Does the organization reflect the values you subscribe to? Is your company active in supporting the Environment or does it champion the rights of women?
There is surely a lot of pride generated when your friends find out you are working in a socially responsible company like the Body Shop or Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
On a more micro-level, the culture of the company also needs to be congruent with your personal values.
Is this company known for its ‘meat-grinding’, ‘hire-and-fire’ culture of unbridled corporate greed like some large Financial Institutions?
I once met a Finance Director who simply refuses to work for another family-run billion-dollar Regional Conglomerate ever again because they allegedly had three sets of accounts and made him sign off on dubious statements and reports. I remember his words clearly – “I wanted to be able to sleep at night as what they wanted me to do was against my principles. Moreover, I didn’t want to go to jail.”
Some Executives with a long career history in MNCs (Multinational Companies) may have reservations about fitting into the culture of an SME (Small/Medium Enterprise), worrying that it would be run too ‘locally’ and that their value systems may not be as progressive as their larger counterparts.
On the flip side, they could have had enough of the large, monolithic and bureaucratic system and would prefer to work in a smaller, more personal setting that an SME could offer.
Your list of personal and corporate values could look like this:
Think about what are the ‘must-haves’ for you and follow them closely. In order to achieve harmony of self and career, you need to pay careful attention to your Values and align them as closely as possible.
Here’s an exercise in Values Discovery you can try.
Give it a shot!