Eliciting Values

Values elicitation is one of the topics often explored by my clients in coaching and team development activities. Establishing a set of core values for an organisation provides many benefits for leaders and their teams. Setting a moral compass based on these values, gives clarity as to how we expect people to behave and make decisions. Once clearly defined, modelling them is a key requirement of good leadership.

Values within Organisations

So how might you go about eliciting your organisational values? For values to be embedded successfully within your organisation it is worthwhile engaging you team in eliciting them, discussing them and bringing them to life. One way to do this is by bringing everyone together and facilitating an engaging team event based on these five steps.

1. Thinking Partners

In pairs take turns to think and listen. The partner listening first will ask the following questions, one at a time: What’s important to you about…

  1. your work?
  2. how we work together and treat one another?
  3. our organisation and what we do?

After asking each question sit back and pay attention to your partner whilst they think through their responses. Capture a succinct statement for each question on a Post It note. Swap turns.

2. Themes

Bring all the Post It notes together and identify common themes. Bring examples to life by sharing stories and examples of where you see these themes adding value about your organisation. Agree on value statements to capture the essence of each theme. Examples of value statements created by Zappos.com include: Deliver WOW Through Service Embrace and Drive Change Create Fun and a Little Weirdness Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded Pursue Growth and Learning Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit Do More with Less Be Passionate and Determined Be Humble These statements provide clear guidance as to what is important at Zappos and the behaviours expected of everyone. For further inspiration check out my values for Leading On Purpose here.

3. Short List

Get everyone to place 3 votes for their top 3 value statements.

4. Select

Decide on the number of values you want to select and pick the values with top votes.

5. Live Them

It’s all very well having identified your values to write them down, however they need to be lived. Celebrate your values by sharing stories that bring the values to life and reflecting on how they show up during everyday activities.

  • Feedback: Appreciate people who demonstrate actions and decisions aligned with your values and develop those who miss opportunities to align.
  • Model: take time to lead by example and ensure your values guide your behaviour and decision making. Reflect on your own behaviour and actions to ensure you stay aligned with your values.

Over time these values become embedded and a core part of your USP. Like the centre running through a stick of rock, your values are at the core of who you are and what you do.