We often think about values on a macro level and how they influence those big decisions, but they are also incredibly important on a micro level. The values you hold as an organisation drive the decisions you make each day – and the same is true for every member of your team.
Teams with strong values and good ethics can drive your business towards success by creating a firm foundation with minimal conflict and a mutually beneficial atmosphere. And companies that can uphold and successfully communicate their values will enjoy significant benefits.
What are team values?
Team values are a shared understanding of how each member will work together and how they will treat each other while doing it. A set of values can guide every communication, creating a strong backbone for facing all kinds of challenges or projects.
Your team values may differ slightly from your organisation’s values as a whole. This isn’t a problem as long as you are on the same path. The reason for the divergence is the fact that while values can be instilled, they should also be organic and people-led – your team values should accurately reflect the individual members who make up your team.
Why are team values so important?
The power of team values is in their ability to become a true framework for your employees. While your business’s values are also important, they can feel abstract or ‘big picture’. Team values, on the other hand, are present in every interaction. They can be instrumental in creating a healthy working environment and promoting psychological safety among employees.
According to research, 37% of employees say working with a great team is their primary reason for staying in their role. Strong team values can also help you avoid conflict and encourage a positive atmosphere that can lay the foundations for high-performing teams.
What do good team values look like in action?
Your team’s values are a series of beliefs they hold about themselves, your business and each other, and when those beliefs are translated into action, they become behaviours.
To understand the values your team already has and the ones you’d like to grow in the future, keep an eye out for the following indicators.
Care and kindness
Teams that are kind and care about how everyone is doing help create a working environment that encourages growth. People should always come first. Achieving goals and hitting work deadlines is important, but keeping teams happy and healthy will yield greater results overall.
Willingness to embrace challenges
Every organisation will face many challenges on its road to success. Teams who can accept and engage with problems that arise are in a great position to overcome them and feel motivated to find solutions.
The way we talk to each other has a huge impact on our confidence and wellbeing. Not everyone has to agree all the time, but our teams know how to communicate differences effectively and with respect. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report in 2022, 95% of people who are thriving at work report being treated with respect all day.
A drive for growth and innovation
When teams have a desire for growth as a core value, they will be actively looking out for ways to improve everything from day-to-day processes to large-scale business operations.
Passion for work
There are few better motivators than a genuine passion for the work you’re doing. When your team values align with your company’s goals, passion can take a driving seat and help individuals feel energised and enthused about their daily tasks.
A balanced approach
Maintaining a good work-life balance is key, especially in our ultra-connected world. When teams understand how important it is to rest, replenish and enjoy their time outside of working hours, they’re more likely to be able to perform well during them.
Open and honest conversation
Trust is absolutely essential when it comes to building solid teams. From leadership you can trust to colleagues who put honesty above all else, there is nothing like knowing you can rely on the rest of your team to tell you the truth about what’s working and what isn’t.
Creative and curious
A team that puts stock into creativity and curiosity is in a great position to solve problems and meet challenges head-on. High-performing teams are willing to push boundaries and consider new possibilities – but those things are hard to do without the freedom to be and feel creative.
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How to build your own team values
Every team is unique, so every team’s values should be too. Simply grabbing some common values from a Google search and applying them to your company may not cut the mustard with your team – especially if they haven’t been involved in the process. So how can you come up with your own values in a way that really reflects your team and the behaviours you want to champion?
1. Create a cross-functional team
Pull together a group of people from different departments and seniority levels for a 1-2 hour brainstorming session. Ask them to bring their thoughts to the session on what values they feel really represent the company and the people they work with. What do they value in others and want to emulate? Is there an element of healthy challenge involved where people feel a sense of psychological safety in disagreeing with one another? Be sure to record the session to look back on, and use a real or virtual whiteboard to record the suggestions. You may then want to group them into themes, and ask your participants to vote on a short list of potential values.
2. Use your shortlist to create an employee survey
You may want to involve everyone else in the company at this stage, so everyone feels bought into your new values. From the short list you created in your initial brainstorming session, pull together a survey to ask people to vote on the values that they feel most represent their work and how they want to behave. Ask for feedback on the short list, and find out if anyone feels that there are certain themes missing.
P3. Present and codify your final values
Create a short slideshow to share at your next company or team all-hands meeting to talk everyone through the new values, and crucially, how you expect people’s interactions to change as a result (if that is the case). If it’s simply formalising the way people already behave, be sure to communicate that. You may be wondering how to build your values into the day-to-day? The key is to not make them too long-winded – you only want 4-5 values so that they’re easy to remember. The second important step is to build them into your work. Using an employee experience tool like Mo, you can ask employees to tag the values that they think their colleagues have displayed within employee recognition shout outs.
How to ensure your team values are lived
You can’t force people to hold certain values, but you can help develop the positive ones they have. Here are a few places to get started.
Show strong leadership
Live and breathe your values and you’ll inspire your team to embrace their own. There’s nothing like leading by example, especially when it comes to building trust and showing integrity.
Recognise and reward employees
Rewarding employees for the effort they put into your organisation is a wonderful way to improve feelings of engagement and belonging – and that includes recognising the way they live up to key values.
Offer valuable tools and support
Make it easier for employees to understand and integrate shared values by offering strong guidance and tools to communicate your company’s ethos. For example, when you share a Moment through our engagement platform, you can tag company values and show the person you’re boosting that you’re paying attention to their growth.
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