Personal values can play a big part and have a major influence on how well teams come together, or not!
What do we mean by personal values?
Put simply, personal values are the things that are most important to us, whether it be in work or our personal lives; in fact, it is impossible to separate the two. Our values and beliefs feed in to our identity, the person we want to be and the person we want to be seen as by others.
The problem is that most people are not consciously aware of their own values and beliefs, let alone understand where they come from and why they are what they are. It can be very difficult to identify and define personal values, and even more so to understand or appreciate the impact it can have on ourselves, interpersonal relationships and team dynamics. This effect can be multiplied and become exponential when we factor in the many individual differences of the team members.
How personal values impact on team dynamics
As individuals, when our behaviours are aligned to our personal values we tend to feel more emotionally satisfied, more fulfilled and will tend to lead more wholesome lives.
If we feel we are doing this at an individual level we are then in a better position to positively contribute within a team context.
However, if our behaviours are not aligned to our values, it can cause emotional turmoil and potential stress, which can manifest in unhelpful behaviours and unintended consequences.
This in turn can lead to challenges within interpersonal relationships and can cause conflict and impact negatively on the team dynamic and performance.
As such, a key element for developing high performing teams is to encourage individuals to identify and define their own personal values.
Building relationships through transparency, rapport and trust
It is easy to get on and have good relationships with people who are like us and share similar values and beliefs, however it is inevitable that within most teams there will be many differences across individuals, and therefore we may not get on with some people as easily as others.
The better individuals can understand who they are, through good levels of self-awareness, the better they will be able to recognise and control their emotions, and in turn, display consistent behaviours that match their values. This will help them feel at ease with themselves and personally fulfilled, and also be in a better position to interact effectively and perform within the team.
Team members who are in a good place can also support other team members (and not just the ones who are like them) who may be struggling with stress, controlling emotions or other personal challenges.
Once we have this enhanced awareness of individual identities and values, we can then start exploring and understanding what is important to the team, and what shared values and behaviours shape relationships, will help build trust and positively impact team performance.
The most important factor shared by the most effective teams is "Psychological safety," or in other words . . . trust. Trust among teammates was the key characteristic that mattered most within the top performing teams
- GOOGLE'S ARISTOTLE PROJECT
Having transparency of each other's personal values will help individuals to appreciate each other's preferences and differences and will help build rapport and develop trust and support within the team.
Personal Values Activity
As we’ve highlighted, identifying personal values can be very tricky to do and most people won't know what their values are or how to start to define them.
This step-by-step activity will guide your team members to identify important factors to them and narrow these down to only a few core values. The activity will then help you to define exactly what these core values mean, enabling you to explore and understand your needs and what is most important to you in your life, both career and personal.
It is recommended that each individual team member completes the values activity for themselves. Once complete they can be encouraged to reflect and share outcomes with each other.
It is then important to spend time together as a team exploring these things to continue the ongoing process of developing trust to perform well as team.
Article by Trevor Norman
Trevor is a leadership coach and cognitive behavioural therapist and specialises in organisational behavioural analytics and team dynamics.