Values…They’re Not Just About Getting a Good Deal

In a previous post I talked about approaching career planning with a strategic eye.  Similar to how some organizations conduct strategic planning, by setting a mission and vision for the future and identifying the values by which it should operate.  This approach can provide a nice framework for approaching a career path/planning.  Having a successful background in strategic planning and execution this approach resonated with me and inspired these blog posts.

photo by rgusick via PhotoRee

One of the key components of this approach centers around value identification.  I have talked with several friends, coworkers and even strangers about how they approach their career planning and without fail understanding their own personal values in this process always seems to slip through the cracks.  Personally, I think this aspect may be the keystone to a successful career plan, yet more times than not it is neglected or forgotten altogether.

Our values are those core beliefs that make us who we are and guide us in how we conduct ourselves in life.  For most of us these are part of our subconscious and not something we actively think about or inventory.  They have developed over years of nature and nurture and subtly over time molded us into who we are.

So why are they so important to our career?

Presumably, we would like to have career paths that involved vocations that we enjoy.  Jobs that have a larger meaning than to just bring home a paycheck.  The problem is that many of us don’t think about the “value fit” of a job.  What this means is how well an organization’s values mesh with your own personal values.  Most organization will list these values much like they do their mission and vision.  These values define how they intend to conduct themselves in the pursuit of their vision and the every day execution of the mission.  This can give the company a “moral compass” of sorts.  The same kind that we use in our personal lives.  What has been found, is that individuals who share very similar values to their company tend to be happier with their roles.

But just reviewing a company’s list of values on their website may not be enough to really get a sense I recommend finding individuals internally that you can talk to and get a more personal pulse.  One approach I use is one I have identified a company I am interested in I look to see who I may know there with in my network or look for someone in my network who knows someone there that can make a connection.  Then I offer to buy them coffee just to pick their brains.  I make it clear that I am not looking to make a pitch for a job, but just want to understand what it is like to work there and to get their take on the values that their peers follow.  Many times this can be an even better way to get a real gage of the value fit.

Finding this information is only part of the equation, the other half is understanding your own values.  This could be as simple as sitting down and listing out the behaviors that you think are important in how one conducts themselves.  Maybe its helping others, or taking accountability.  By getting a clear sense of your own values and doing some sleuthing on a target company’s values you not only help narrow down your search for that next position but also set yourself up for longer term happiness in that new position.

About the author: Heath

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