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Free Guide: Values Elicitation for Deep Motivation & Engagement

Are you a People or workplace leader wanting to disrupt quiet quitting and reduce attrition?  Looking to transform burnout into meaningful work?

Then it’s time to dive deep into the science of motivation and understand how we derive meaning and feel fulfilled in our work and lives.

It all starts with tapping into our personal values.

What are Values?

Values are simply what’s important to us and how we derive meaning.  It’s how we are neurologically wired to evaluate the time spent in different areas of our lives.

If you ever wondered how to live life without regrets or #YOLO effectively, then this is a process you need to consider learning and quickly integrating into your career and areas of your life.

In a time when your team is starving for meaning and leaving the workplace in search of it, it’s a value add to help your People connect to their values and close the gap on values before they quit for their own existential search for meaning.

The best benefit when it comes to tapping into our values is deep intrinsic motivation that runs on auto-pilot.  

All it takes is a simple shift in management style.

Now let’s quickly address what aren’t values.

They are not fancy words that stem from an internal branding exercise; whether from creating workplace values or personal branding.

That’s a marketing exercise (internally and externally) that projects what we want to see in our workplace culture or how we want to see ourselves.

In other words, it’s no more than playing a persona or hallucinating a character, like method-acting.

At best, you can develop habits around wanted behaviors. 

At its worst, you’ll get hit with a big dose of imposter syndrome as you begin to behave like you have multiple personalities, which can be very mentally and emotionally draining.

How our Values are created

Our values are created at a very young age, between 0-7 years old which we call the imprinting stage.  Like a cookie cutter to a dough mold, we begin to establish our worldviews early on in our lives.

That’s why our upbringing is important.

(And also why good therapy helps us to resolve many of our issues that stem from our childhood)

Whether that’s supported by our family, traditions, social norms, school, church, and our environment, it neurologically establishes how we want to express ourselves and derive meaning from our experiences.

The good news, our values don’t change that quickly, if they naturally change at all, with a few exceptions.

This means we can predictably use them as a blueprint for motivation and create a clear communication path and management practice to tap into our motivation.

The Power (and pain) behind our Criterion Values

Now if you’re wondering why some people are motivated differently and why your one size fits all workplace values aren’t getting that level of motivation and engagement you’re looking for, then understanding criterion values are key.

Not just do we establish our values at a young age, but we also stack them in a very specific order that we want to fulfill.  It’s as individually unique as it can be.

In other words, we may have lots of concepts and ideas that are important to us in our lives, but we have a very clear preference for how we’re naturally motivated in expressing them.

What’s key about our criterion values is our neurological response and arousal to them.

If we get to express them in their natural order, we neurologically get aroused and it makes us feel good and motivated.

The flip side is also true - when our criterion values get violated, we also get aroused neurologically, but in the form of pain.

Recognizing this can prevent a lot of unnecessary tension and misunderstanding in the workplace and between people.  When our values are violated, we will instinctively, actively defend ourselves or suppress them.  

Either way, it hurts our mental and emotional well-being and can even lead to passive-aggressive and toxic behaviors.

So as we learn to elicit our values, we can begin to define them:

  • What does that value mean to you?
  • How can you achieve that value?
  • How do you know when you have that value?
  • How can someone support you in fulfilling that value?

 

The top 5 values in an area of life are what are called driver values that can be used as a clear guide with decision-making and behaviors.

Since our values operate at a very deep unconscious level, focusing on fulfilling the top 5 values is sufficient to tap into deep meaning and fulfillment.

Foundation to Work-Life Fulfillment

Many of us are beginning to realize the complexity of how work and other areas of life are blending together, especially since our 2020 global pandemic lockdown.

Since then we’ve noticed a global phenomenon called the “Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” where people began to re-evaluate their work and life priorities and leave the workplace.

This collective introspective process has had many of us re-evaluate our priorities in life and actively search for more fulfillment.

Our values also influence us in different areas of our life:

  • Careers, finances, and contribution to society
  • Relationships, social and romantic 
  • Family
  • Health
  • Growth, personally and spiritually

 

While the concept of a work-life balance was useful in the early days of the industrial world with ample time and a steady pace to invest in different areas proportionally, it no longer works in our modern attention seeking and fast-paced environments.

As our lives are becoming more interconnected, now is more important than ever to utilize our values as a way to prioritize how we focus our energy in a healthy and meaningful way.

With rampant growth, a flurry of activity, instant gratification, and FOMO, our way of life isn’t sustainable any more - mentally, emotionally, and physically.  

For many of us, we are collectively approaching a “less is more” philosophy to work and life, as many of us are struggling with burnout, unsatiated desires, and feeling empty and unfulfilled.

Instead of trying to juggle all areas of your life, just focusing on slowly building habits and simple goals with compounding effects in each area is the successful strategy for maintaining fulfillment.

This helps to not starve one area of life, or rely on a few areas to compensate for the gaps in others.

With minimal effort and momentum, clear goals, and consistency, we can quickly turn around burnout and achieve the joy, passion, love, and happiness that many of us crave in our work, family, relationships, and all other areas of our lives.

How to Uncover Our Values / Simple Elicitation

Since our personal values are wired into us at the deepest unconscious level, we have to systematically uncover them.

It requires us to answer a few simple, deeply introspective questions.

Step 1: What’s Important to you in the context of your career (or specific area of life)?

Ask this question and only this question.  

Let your unconscious mind unload the words. If you go into a long story, give that story a simple word label.

Keep asking this question until you empty it out, and when you do, ask the question again three more times to ensure the opportunity to have everything fully presented.

Step 2: Sort your values

Rank your values from most important to least important. Take the opportunity to clear up words that mean the same (pick the label that best represents)

The top 5 values are your driver values.

Step 3: Define your driver values

These labels you’ve created are unique to you with the language of your own mind, i.e. how you’ve represented them internally.

In order to put it to practical use, whether as part of your decision-making process or as a way to communicate to others, you’ll need to define them.

Here are important questions for each value as we mentioned earlier:

  • What does that value mean to you?
  • How can you achieve that value?
  • How do you know when you have that value?
  • How can someone support you in fulfilling that value?

 

Once you’ve clearly defined it, you’ll be able to put your values into action, naturally tapping into your motivation.

The goal is to express your values in line with a specific goal or outcome in a particular area of life, such as your career, to fulfill that area of your life.

Mapping Our Values to the Workplace

Now that you have personal values defined, the next step is to map it to both workplace values (company, division, function, team, unit, etc. level) and specific outcomes that are part of your functional role.

Remember, any values outside of you are just projections, so it’s up to you to find that fit.  Don’t get caught up with labels, it’s the neurological arousal and internal motivation that’s what we’re going for.

As a workplace leader and manager working this exercise with your team, have the mapping easily available and accessible to you so you can better coach and manage performance based on each individual’s driver values.

You can define what needs to be done, and provide flexibility for each individual on how they do it through their own personal values lenses.

Now in the case, there is a clear mismatch between personal values and expected behaviors, there will be a high potential for low performance, disengagement, and feeling like work is a meaningless grind.

That’s why it’s important to uncover as much as possible during the hiring and onboarding process and to design a performance management plan that’s tailored to each individual.

Up-skilling and reskilling with this exercise will also open up new opportunities to best use the talent existing within the organization.

Remember, skills can be learned. With values alignment, motivation is the fuel for high-speed learning and growth and will bear an easy return on investment when doing so.

Compassion in the Workplace

If there’s one effective side effect to the exercise of eliciting personal values - it’s developing compassion and respecting that we all have our own models of our world.

We can respect diversity and differences through our beliefs and behaviors, and then collectively aligning to a set of values is a powerful unifying force.

This can be in the workplace and with relationships in general.

When everyone makes an honest effort to recognize each person’s differences and support each other to flourish, you’ll build a human-centered workplace on trust, connection, and empathy.

It’s great for workplace mental and emotional well-being.  It’s great for performance and results.

Ultimately it’s also great for business.


Whenever you’re ready, there are three ways I can support you:

  1. Starting the Burnout Recovery Process for Your Teams, here.
  2. Training Your Managers to Be Responsive to Wellbeing, Performance and Recovery in the Workplace, here.
  3. Getting rapid relief and out of a burnout crisis with a breakthrough retreat, here.
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