Are you happy at work? If not, you are probably not surprised at all by a recent Right Management survey of Canadian and American workers. Less than one-fifth of employees reported being satisfied with their jobs. While some of this is monetary – we would all appreciate a bigger paycheck and more benefits – much of our dissatisfaction may be that we are in jobs that do not align with our values. Perhaps we are unsure where to move next in order to create more happiness and fulfillment. A number of years ago, I created a values assessment tool to help look at this and help individuals determine where they want to go, and how they can get there.
The assessment tool is a deck of cards. On the top of each card are a personal value and a defining statement for that value. On the bottom are a corresponding organizational value and a defining message. We look at the personal values of the cards and pick out those that are important or meaningful to us. We reflect on questions such as, “How would others know this value was important to me?” “How do I show this to others?” and “How has this value shaped some of my decisions?”
Values are something that we don’t pay a lot of conscious attention to though they drive everything we do. All behaviour we exhibit is driven by values. If, for instance, I want to make green curry chicken for dinner, it’s not because I value green curry chicken. It’s because I value the creative process of cooking, or that I take joy from creating something delicious and seeing my family happy. These are the core values that drive my decision to cook this wonderful dish. On a larger level, our values should also drive our decisions and behaviours in our work.
While values drive everything we do, we are often not in touch with them on a deeper level. It is difficult to go on that journey of self-discovery, and it is in this regard that the values assessment tool can be so useful. It can help people gain greater awareness of their values and see what is really important to them. We can gain an understanding of what is driving our decisions and how this aligns with what is required of us to be successful in a role, in a job, in a company, on a team, as a volunteer, and so on.
Assessing what we value can help us take those next career steps. If, for instance, we have a very particular set of skills and the only company in which we can put them to use is in Montreal, do we value our careers enough to uproot ourselves from Toronto? Maybe so. Or do we value our family so that it is more important that our English-speaking high school-aged children are not required to move and attend French schools? Or do our values relate to security, and this job would provide that for our family? There are many considerations, and determining those values that are vital to you and that drive your behaviour is a useful step in helping us make well planned career decisions.