Finding Our Values and Finding Yours

January 13, 2022

Identifying Team Values

And how they help you find success

When you think about values from a business perspective, what comes to mind? Corporate slogans? Inspirational quotes? Fast food taglines?

🎶ba da ba ba baaa…I’m lovin’ it, amirite? 

It can all seem like a lot of marketing fluff without much substance, but that doesn’t mean core values aren’t important. The values that these companies outwardly exhibit have to come from somewhere. For larger organizations that typically means bringing in some type of consultant who helps them figure out what values the company holds and how to turn them into a Values Statement that will resonate with both employees and customers.

But where did those company values that the consultant identified come from? None other than the employees themselves.

Whether you realize it or not, everyone works by their own set of values and usually, organizations will end up hiring people whose values align with the org (sometimes subconsciously). Doing so allows teams and companies to collaborate and grow with less friction than if you were to hire a mix of people with frequently conflicting values.

As important as organizational values are, they can get watered down on their way to you and your SDR team. What drives the business might not necessarily drive your business unit. That only means it’s that much more important for you and your team to talk about each of your personal values as you establish the values of your team as a whole.

Before getting into the details on how to identify your own values and those of your team, it’s important to narrow down the admittedly broad concept of “values”.

In short, your values are the aspects of life to which you give the most importance. 

For example, if you’re someone who really enjoys learning about the different ways buyers leverage your software, ‘curiosity’ could be one of your values.

Furthermore, values can be split into what Brene Brown (an excellent resource who we pulled from a lot as we went through our own values initiative) calls “core” values and “second-tier” values. As you start thinking about your personal values, a lot of different – but overlapping – values will come to mind. Much of the self-exploration portion of this process is about figuring out which of these are your core values (there should only be 2-3) and which are second-tier values (that are actually a byproduct of your core values).

Oh, and if you want to see the finished product of our own values-finding process, you can read about them here.

Finding Your Personal Values

Before you can come together and identify your team values, each individual on your team has to get introspective and figure out their personal core values. If you’re looking for a list of values to use for inspiration, Brown put together this list for her book, Dare to Lead, that should help.

(Dare to Lead is where I’m drawing a lot of advice and practices from, so if you really want to dive into the details I highly recommend checking it out).

Even with the initial push, it can be difficult to reach concrete conclusions about who you are. Here are some questions that may help an SDR trying to find their core values:

  • What do you appreciate the most about your manager or other coworkers?

  • What part of the SDR role is your favorite, and most importantly, why?

  • Do your teammates have any tendencies that annoy you?

  • What are the qualities in a prospect you appreciate?

  • What do prospects do that really bothers you?

You’ll notice that a lot of these questions aren’t actually about you and your actions, but rather the way you respond and react to the actions of others. As people, we inherently want others to treat us the way we would treat others. By taking notice of your own reactions to the actions of others, you can learn a lot about yourself.

For example, I’m sure you have at least one colleague who is consistently a few minutes late to meetings. When they’re late, how does that make you feel? If it really bothers you, one of your core values is likely the reason why. Depending on who you are, this could point to a few different values. It could be respect, accountability, punctuality, order, teamwork, trust, or something else entirely.

By considering moments like these, and cross-referencing them with other moments and reactions, you’ll be able to narrow down and define your values in a communicable way.

Once you’ve done this, you may still have trouble determining which of your values are “core” and which are “second-tier” The easiest way to separate them is by thinking about which one drives the other. For me, for example, I value both trust and accountability. When thinking about how they connected, I realized the importance I put on trust is the reason I value accountability, not the other way around.

You should repeat this exercise until you’ve narrowed it down to just your 2 or 3 core values.

Finding Your Team Values

Once everyone on your team has determined their personal values, you can come together as a group and do a similar exercise (with a few key differences).

If your company already has its values defined and operationalized, there’s a decent chance this is an easy process. Why? Because organizations with defined values include them in their hiring process, leading them to hire employees that have values similar to those of the company.

If that’s not the case, there’s a chance some team members will have contradicting values, like security vs. risk-taking, as an example. When this happens, turning to the second-tier values under them can help find common ground. Perhaps both people value innovation, but one wants to push beyond the envelope while the other wants to innovate within the structure that already exists. Even though innovation is a secondary value for both individuals, it can still be a core value for your team.

Recognizing these areas of overlap is the easiest way to determine team values, but with one large caveat. The conversation you’re having with your team has to be completely open and honest. If you value punctuality but Greg on your team is always late, this is your opportunity to let him know.

Easier said than done though, right?

In Dare to Lead, Brown dives in-depth into what it takes to create what she calls a “safe container” (very much like a “safe space” but less cliché) to have these kinds of conversations. Here’s a short guide she provides on 7 key elements to building a safe container for vulnerable conversations. For full context though, you’ll want to check out the book itself.

By establishing an environment with these elements at its foundation, you’re allowing real conversations to take place, which lead to real actions. You’ll be able to better understand the motives and motivations behind your team members’ choices. You’ll learn how all of your teammates work and how they prefer to interact with colleagues. Most importantly, you’ll learn how best to work together as a team. Learning more about your teammates is only going to help you grow stronger connections. Using these values as a foundation allows those connections to grow to their full potential.

Operationalizing your Values

Values are not a fantasy football lineup. You can’t “set it and forget it”. Recognizing and referencing your values in your work is vital to the continuation of their support. During the first section we dove into how your work habits helped find your values. Now that your values are set, it’s the same equation just the other way around.

Now that you know your values, you will be able to recognize when Greg is late, and bring it up to him in a way that you know won’t have negative consequences, because Greg knows your values too, and you both respect that.

Operationalizing values on a team (and organizational) level is a larger process, but equally important. We’ve heard of organizations that go as far as working the values into their bonus structure and promotion plans. The more ingrained the values are in your employees day-to-day work, the more they’ll recognize and work by them.

Just like any sales team, this process is going to look different for every individual, team, and organization. Some teams will find they hold similar values but they conflict in the way they’re displayed. Other teams might thrive on the friction between members (competitiveness can be a value itself). But the only way to figure that out is by taking the time to explore and understand the values on your team.

This is meant to be a synopsis of the value finding process we’ve taken, but if you plan on doing this for your team, I once again recommend checking out the full Dare to Lead book as well as the various companion resources Brown makes available on her website. If no one in your org is qualified or has the bandwidth to lead this process, her website also has a list of Certified Dare to Lead Facilitators that can bring the book and it’s research to your organization.

Determining values is not a process you should half-ass or rush through (which can be tempting when revenue-generating tasks are on your to-do list). If you take the time to execute this process in full, not only will you increase your team’s attitude and productivity, you’ll also learn something about yourself along the way. And who doesn’t love becoming a little more self-aware?

If you want to learn more about the process we went through at demandDrive or talk about your own values initiative with us, reach out to Alex Ellison or AJ Alonzo on LinkedIn!

alex ellison

Alex Ellison is the Marketing Communications Manager at demandDrive. He started his career as an SDR before discovering a passion for creating content and resources that drew him towards marketing. In his current role he primarily works behind the scenes drafting, editing, and developing a wide variety of marketing materials and educational resources. He is also currently enrolled at the University of Washington pursuing a Masters in Communication Leadership with a focus on Digital Media.
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