By: Michèle Barnett Berg, Senior Vice President
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Henry Ford, American Industrialist, founder of the Ford Motor Company
“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple
Wise words from two great business leaders who created and led companies that have greatly impacted and changed the way we work, live and play. While their leadership was an important part of their company’s rise, they both recognized that sustainable success is driven by teams. Effective teams do not happen by luck. A best practice for teams to be aligned and work productively together is to have a shared understanding of their collective values. This is an area that often teams don’t take the time to discuss but when not addressed can often lead to future challenges and unmet expectations.
Values are the qualities, priorities and conditions that you believe in and view to be important and which need to exist in order for you to feel satisfied in life and work. What are some practical ways to understand the values of the team? Ask, Reflect and Capture. Taking the time at a team meeting to have each member share what values they hold as being most important to themselves and the way they work is a constructive use of team that builds engagement and an understand as how to drive performance. We each have values. However, we may not always acknowledge what they are and how important they are to us. When we work and do not incorporate our values, our levels of productivity can get affected as will our attitude, motivation and ability to be a good team player. Knowing your values helps you collaborate, communicate, make better decisions and be more engaged.
Having a Values Conversation
While we may know our own values, we may not have shared these with our team. Many teams have focused on the “what we need to do” not the “how do we want to do and with what kind of conditions”. It’s important to take the time to have a collective conversation on what the team’s values are whether you are a small startup or an established team in a Fortune 500. By defining and discussing values, important conversations happen among team members as well as gaining context and insights as to how a team will perform under stress and pressure. Teams with aligned values are better able to withstand change, challenges, growth and celebrate their triumphs.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
Starting the conversation:
- What does it mean to be on an effective team?
- What do you view to be the most important core values for a team?
It’s not just about the leader stating his or her values or repeating what the company or organization has determined as values. In addition to the questions above, you can share the following Values List with your team members and have them select their top 10 values and then their top 5 values and use these inputs for a collective discussion.
It’s not unlikely that team members will choose different things. But having the conversation about why they think it is important for the team is where team members build trust and understanding of one another. These conversations and discussions are valuable and help each team member feel that their views have been heard. When everyone contributes and shares their perspectives, we see teams have a greater level of commitment and ability to endure when challenges and obstacles arise. This is a great activity to do at your next team meeting. You can send the Values List and questions ahead of time to make sure meeting time is focused on having a robust discussion. In our experience, clients that focus on aligning team values and prioritize these conversations have more effective teams that face challenges and success equally and experience higher levels of engagement and lower levels of attrition.
About MCG Partners
MCG Partners a woman-owned, Greater Boston-based consultancy specializing in executive coaching, leadership development, talent management, and organizational development solutions. We help businesses optimize success through the entire management life-cycle. MCG Partners is also a Predictive Index® (PI®) certified partner.