Values are not fuddy-duddy concepts. They are trendy. Paul Brunson, a relationship coach on Married at First Sight, always gets contestants to explore each other’s values. What ones each one hold dear? What is important to them? Do they align? If not, presumably the marriage is doomed to failure and more alarmingly for many, fewer followers on social media.
Paul posted on X on November 28th, 2023, saying
‘One of the most important questions you can answer is this: What are your values? Now your values guide everything in this life. Who’s the best romantic match, who’s the best business partner, who are the best friends? These are all based on your values. But more important than the best match, your values are your happiness. So identify what your values are, prioritise them, and most importantly feed them…. not only will you lead a fuller life, but you’ll be much happier.’
It is the same with our work settings. It is suggested that a third of our lives are spent at work. On a weekly basis many of us see our colleagues more then we see our beloveds. If shared values are key to successful relationships then the same applies to our work relationships.
Before we talk about drawing up our own set of values, we should look at core values, their significance and their impact.
So, Just What Are Core Values?
”https://twitter.com/PaulCBrunson” It is worthwhile carefully reading the following excellent explanation given by Workplace from en-gb.workplace.com.
They say ‘Company values are a set of core beliefs held by an organisation. They might involve principles that govern the business, its philosophy, or how it expects the people who work for it to act.
They are overarching – they’re not about a single situation but act as a guide to how a company should approach everything it does and its interactions.
They can help define an organisation’s personality and help it stand out from the crowd.
They can make a statement about where a company stands and what it believes in.
They can give people focus and a greater sense of purpose and engagement, reinforcing a company’s broader goals and feeding into everyday decisions and work.
And crucially, values act as one of the building blocks of organisational culture, giving a consistent reference point, even in times of change.’
What Can Core Values Do For Our Setting?
We all know that recruitment within Early Years has been exceptionally difficult over the past few years. Having clear values can make the difference in securing the right person for the job.
Create a secure work environment
A set of considered values is the basis for a setting’s code of conduct. Values provide a guide for behaviour in professional, social, physical and virtual interactions that is clearly understood. Having values levels the playing field and ensures fairness for all. This helps people to feel secure..
They also enable settings to identify and deal with toxic behaviours promptly.
Conversely, managers can positively affirm their staff for evidencing these values.
This helps staff members feel more connected to the setting and to one another and they are then able to develop a sense of ownership to the setting. Improved performance is often the result.
Once values are embedded, all staff members can interact with stakeholders in a way that reflects the setting positively. Bank staff members too, must understand and adhere to them. If parents are aware of the setting’s values, they also are encouraged to abide by these in their interactions with staff. They also trickle down to the children in our care, making the setting a happy, healthy place to be.
Formulating Your Own Set Of Values
As with establishing our work place culture, our workplace values are best chosen when all staff are involved. There needs to be a shared platform from which they are embedded into our setting’s culture. A special staff meeting called to focus on values is a very good way to start generating ideas.
In creating your values, the following is helpful to consider:
Be Clear and Concise
It is essential to keep your company values clear so that they can be understood and embraced by employees, regardless of their level or position in the setting. Staff members, from apprentices, to cooks, practitioners, leaders and managers must know what to expect and understand what is important.
Keep them Brief and Memorable
Keep them brief – short and snappy is the way to go! They are then easy to recall at any given moment.
Ensure they reflect your setting’s culture
Check that they accurately reflect your mission, vision, beliefs, and objectives.
Adapt if needed
Settings grow and develop over time, so reflect on your values from time to time, making sure they are still relevant and effective. If not, make amendments that suit your current reality.
What Is Important For You? What Matters?
The first step in creating our values is by looking at what is important to us.
Do we value honesty? Integrity? Positivity? Service? Kindness? Accountability? Unity? Having a group discussion with all staff members will bring common values to the fore. Once these are aired, choose some (five is a good number) that reflect your setting’s uniqueness.
Some suggestions are:
How Can We Use These Values In Our Leadership And Management Roles?
They can be used as a standard for expected behaviours. Questions such as ‘how do your actions reflect our values?’ can be used when addressing problems. Aligning behaviours with them is a neutral platform for resolving conflict, addressing poor performance or acknowledging success.
Managers can look at the setting’s values with staff members during appraisals and supervisions and talk about how these are being portrayed in practice.
Like pearls on a priceless necklace, these values can be threaded through every aspect of your setting’s life, from recruitment to admissions, from professional discussions to awards and from parental engagement to future planning.
Values hold everyone together. All are equal and all are responsible for upholding these.
So, as Paul Brunson suggests, let’s ‘identify what our values are, prioritise them, and most importantly feed them’ in our workplace.
They shape our culture and our uniqueness.