Think back to when you were a child. There was likely a time when someone told you to clean something – your bedroom at home, a locker at school, etc. Let’s say that you set out to do the task well and impress others with the quality of your work. At some point, the person directing your action returns to evaluate the results.
They inspect your work and ask, “Do you call this clean?”
Before you can answer, they tell you to try harder and explain they will return later to recheck your work. You try again but find yourself frustrated that you don’t understand exactly what the other person wants from you. At some point, either you pass inspection, time runs out, or you are dismissed as incapable of doing the job well.
The crux of the problem is found in the question, “Do you call this clean?” People are operating from different definitions of cleanliness. The kid thinks they are doing a good job. The adult is frustrated, thinking the kid is trying to cut corners. Both are aggravated.
I’m not saying that your team members are children needing an adult to lord over them. Go that route, and you will have more problems than an untidy office space. What I’m suggesting is that coming up with a laundry list of values, posting them on the wall, and then expecting people to align their behaviors to a word or two is going to lead to frustration on both sides of the equation. If you want people to live out the team’s values, don’t just state them. Give examples of what the value looks like in action. Be specific. Give multiple illustrations.
Use this week’s video and tool to bring the values discussion to life. Watch the video and then work to complete the worksheet. The form provides space for two values and four behaviors. Push yourself to provide two behavioral examples for each value statement, but don’t let the worksheet’s layout limit your efforts. If you can think of more examples, write them down.
worksheet translating values into behaviors
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.