Don’t underestimate your work values

Reflect on what’s important to you in the workplace
Photo by Mario Ibrahimi on Unsplash

I shirk whenever I hear a client say “I will do anything!” when pursuing a new job or opportunity.

Whilst I acknowledge there are people who may seek work out of desperation or necessity, the act of pursuing ‘any’ job is shortsighted and flawed. Here’s why:

  • The job may not play to your strengths or preferred skills
  • The job may not provide the level of challenge you would like
  • You may disagree with the goals and aspirations of the organisation
  • The ethos of the organisation may be in conflict with your beliefs and ideals

Inevitably tension creeps in and the desire to ‘move on’ becomes stronger (or becomes suppressed).

The above notions were discussed in a student workshop I ran this week based on self-awareness, in particular in identifying personal strengths, skills and talents.

We talked about values, which centre around the ideals and beliefs that are important to a person. Values influence all aspects of our life, including our work and other pursuits. Having an awareness of personal values can help a person decide what jobs or careers may suit them.

Values can be static, fluid, and constantly dynamic. They are influenced by our experiences, upbringings, education, culture and beliefs. They can also be influenced by different stages of life. What may have been valued years ago, may not be valued by a person today.

For example, in my early twenties I valued the idea of making a decent salary so I could afford to travel, buy clothes and CDs (yes, I had a CD budget!). The workplace was exciting when I could participate in social events each week, including after work drinks and sports games. I enjoyed taking direction from senior staff and wanted to be guided on what to do. I liked the idea of working for large corporates who had the ability to offer perks and visually appealing work spaces. Nice aesthetics made me feel I was working for a prestigious organisation, I mean, how cool would that be?

Flash forward to the current day and my values have definitely morphed and changed from that time. With greater financial and and family responsibilities (mortgage, partner and a cat) I am frugal with my money and like to prioritise spending time with loved ones. With that, I err on the side of valuing stability and I also appreciate having flexible hours during my work day. I thrive when I can learn at work, so ongoing study and projects have become a priority. I am less interested in corporate life, and prefer to work for organisations that contribute to the development of people and communities. The idea of giving back is important and I enjoy the helping elements of my work. Naturally the education sector is a great cultural fit for me at this point in time.

Reflecting on your personal values is an important exercise to do – it reveals a lot about they type of person you are and provides clues on the types of industries and jobs that may suit and support those values.

Useful links:

What are your work values:

Understand workplace values:

Develop a career with purpose:

‘Best Maori Employer’ bases success on cultural values:

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