Jenny Burrows describes values as being the core of everything. She says “Values are what motivate you, drive you and what you need to feel happy and fulfilled. Values can be seen as how your core needs are expressed.” She explains that this can be for example security, freedom, connection, and more. She adds, “If those values that you consider important, are missing, then most of the time you can feel unhappy, stressed or unfulfilled.”
When talking about feeling connected, connection is not just aligned to the company and the people you work with, but it is also that connection to yourself. Connection is about staying true to yourself and the values you’re aligned to. Once you recognise what drains your connection or what motivates or energises your connection, you will be able to make changes and therefore feel more aligned with your values.
“It is important to realise what certain values mean to you and not necessarily someone else. Remember that values are also not set in stone – it can change based on what is most important to you during that specific time of your life. It can also change because your perspectives on what is truly important can change as well. It is a journey that you’ll go through, and you’ll discover to see how your values and perspectives can change with time.”
How do we feel connected in the workplace?
Values are a core part of feeling connected; it is knowing exactly what your desires are. Values overlap with things that we call drivers. Drivers are essentially what give you that motivation and satisfaction to do something, it is what makes you want to put in that hard work. Drivers help initiate or motivate you to do what you want to do.
“If you want to start feeling more connected to the workplace, it is also important that you set boundaries in your work life. If you are constantly thinking about work, you will never be able to fully live in the moment. That can then strip away your value of freedom. Do things that you love and are passionate about because that will help you fulfil your values, and you will be in turn, happier”, says Jenny.
If you feel disconnected in the workplace, Jenny offers the following advice:
Start with recognising what your values are and what they mean to you. It is natural for us human beings to have negative outlooks. We tend to ask what the dangers are, and we are always on the lookout for the risks. But you should turn that negative outlook around and ask yourself, “Where are the opportunities for me to be more aligned with my values or work situation and how can I bring them together?” This perspective will help you to create and recognise your drivers.
We all have 3 drivers: autonomy, mastery and purpose. It is important that we feel a sense of control over our work. It is also important to feel that we are good at doing our job.
You should try and connect to that sense of purpose. See what values align with your drivers and see what values give you more of a sense of purpose in your work. Ask yourself for example, “Which of my drivers link with me feeling that I am doing a good job?” or “Which of my drives gives me that sense of control and autonomy?”
Ultimately, you have to take responsibility and focus on yourself in order to make a change.
It is all about autonomy
We can feel disconnected from our company when a company’s values do not align with our own values. We can also feel disconnected when a company does not live by or encourage its own values. So, it is important to note that in terms of autonomy, you have control over your mindset and your actions. You can change how you see things to make you feel more connected and happier. Also think about what you have influence over. For example, if you are a team leader, you can influence your team by living out those values even if your company does not choose to encourage it. You can act with leadership even if you do not have that leadership title. Lead by example - influence your team or even just your own life because it ultimately comes back to yourself and recognising what you can control.
However, it is important to note, that there is a difference between a company that does enforce its values and a company that contradicts its values. When the workplace becomes toxic, you have the autonomy to make the decision and decide if you still want to stay there.
As a leader or manager, you have the autonomy to take control and create that culture regardless of what is happening “above” you. It comes to recognising what autonomy you have in your role to manage and lead your teams.
As a leader, stress the company’s vision and encourage the company’s values. It is also important to have your own vision for your team on how you want to lead them. Communicate your vision to your team and as a team, ask the question of How do we achieve high performance? Give your team the space to also take control of what they want to achieve and what values they want to live out. That will also make you feel more connected because you will feel more connected to your team, and it will help your team members to feel more connected as well. Introduce this conversion around values with your team and allow each of them to align with their individual values and team values even if your company does not live out its values.
In order to feel connected, we recognise that values are key, and it is important to understand how they are impacting the decisions we are making and our work life. Recognise what is driving you and consider other opportunities that are available when you feel disconnected. Have that sense of purpose and vision that aligns with you and your team’s values.
This journey is not linear, and it is forever evolving. Self-development in the workplace is not a tick-off once-in-a-lifetime thing.
Enjoy the journey.