Not happy at work? Maybe you’re in a place where your skills fit but your personal values don’t.
Laura and Kate interview organizational culture expert Chris Edmonds and discover how to maximize job satisfaction by finding a company that values what you do.
Richer Life Lab Podcast show quote
“Each person’s purpose, values, behaviors and philosophy may not be at all formalized, but they still drive daily plans, decisions and actions.” — Chris Edmonds
Why Connecting to Personal Values is a Win-Win
Chris Edmonds is CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, an organizational culture consulting company. He’s a well-known speaker, and author of several books, including The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace.
Personal values have gotten ignored in many organizations, says Chris. When companies focus too much on the bottom line (i.e. how much money they’re making) and not enough on their people, it can lead to problems, like unhappy employees.
If you’ve ever felt under-appreciated or frustrated in a job, you’re not alone. A Gallup survey shows that only 30% of employees are engaged at work, and that number has been pretty steady for decades.
Yet when people are connected to their work and their colleagues, and they feel valued by their companies, they perform a lot better.
Every organization has a culture that supports certain workplace values, and the more your own personal values line up with those of your employer, the happier and more productive you’ll be.
Tips to Match Personal Values With Your Work
Here are Chris’s tips for finding that perfect fit where you match your personal values to your work:
Tip #1: Define your life purpose
This sounds philosophical, but it’s really the first step in defining your workplace and personal values. Answer these questions to yourself clearly: Who are you serving? To what end?
Chris firmly believes that we perform at our best when we use our skills and talents to serve others in the organizations work in, no matter what job or level we have. Once you know whom you’re serving (e.g., colleagues, customers, a community), you can then define your end goal.
Is it to earn a lot of money, for example? To create products that make people’s lives better? Whatever it is, work on it until you figure it out.
Once you define this life purpose, you can find a job that is consistent with it—and you’ll be less stressed and much more confident in the decisions you make.
Tip #2: Research a company’s real culture
So, let’s say you know what your personal values are. How do you find a company that shares them?
Start with research. Check out the organization’s reputation on Glassdoor.com and social media. What do current or past employees say? Is it a fun place to work? Is the management good? Is the company doing community service?
Whatever you value in a workplace (e.g. ability to work independently, mentoring, strong teams, friendly competition, integrity), look for clues on how well the organization matches up.
Tip #3: Tee up interview questions
Craft culture-related questions to pose in a job interview. Ask things like: “Tell me what the work environment here is like?”, or “How do people get ahead in this organization?” Listen carefully.
If the employer tells you, for instance, that individual performance is everything, and you are a teamwork-focused person, that might be a red flag.
If you’re called back for second or third interviews, you might consider asking more probing and assertive (but revealing!) questions like: “You talk about X value on your website—can you give me an example of how you put this value into practice?” or “Why did the previous person in this position leave?”
Tip #4: Ask to talk to employees
You don’t want to be in a work situation where you have to act in ways that are inconsistent with your personal values.
One of the best ways to find out if a potential employer will be a good fit is to ask to talk to employees who would be on your team. Then ask those individuals specific questions about their tasks and what the culture is like.
Tip #5: Try to get referred
We discussed employee referrals in detail in Richer Life Lab episode 15, and Chris agrees that you’re more likely to find a workplace whose values mirror yours if you have a friend who works there.
Not only will you be able to get inside information on what the company is really like, you’ll probably like the culture if your friend does.
Richer Life Lab Podcast practical
This week’s Richer Life Lab practical is to spend a little time focusing on your life purpose. Who are you serving and to what end? What are the values that you want to model every day? Identify and start practicing them right away! Start with you.
We want to hear about what’s working for you! Let us know if you try out one of the strategies we suggested in the show or have other recommendations that we can share with listeners in a future show.
Send us a Lab Report to firstname.lastname@example.org or record a voice message on this page. You can delete and re-record your message if you need to.
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