Find Commitment Through Clarifying Values
It’s one thing to expect leaders to be clear about their values and beliefs, but it’s another to prove that it really matters that they are. What’s the evidence for this assertion? How much difference does being clear about values really make? We set out to empirically investigate the relationship between personal values clarity, organi- zational values clarity, and a variety of outcomes, such as commit- ment and job satisfaction. Surveying a large sample of managers in the early 1980s, and another sample of managers nearly two decades later, revealed few differences in the findings.3 The results of our research clearly indicate that clarity of personal values makes a sig- nificant difference in behavior at work.
Managers were asked about the extent of their clarity around their personal values as well as the values of their organization. They were also asked about their level of commitment to their organiza- tion, how proud they were to tell others they worked in their orga- nization, their level of motivation and productivity, their job satisfaction, and the like. As you can see in Figure 2.2, the highest levels of commitment are found where personal values are the clear- est. Clarity about personal values was consistently more significant in accounting for positive workplace attitudes and levels of engage- ment than was clarity around organizational values.4
The people who are clear about their personal beliefs but can’t recite the corporate credo are significantly more likely to stick around and work hard than those people who’ve heard the organizational litany but have never listened to their own inner voice. In other words, personal values drive commitment. Personal values are the route to motivation and productivity.
How can this be? How can people who are very clear about their own values be committed to a place that has never affirmed or
posted its organizational values? Think about it. Have you ever had the feeling, “This place is not for me?” Have you ever walked into a place, immediately gotten the sense, “I don’t belong here,” and just walked right out? In contrast, have you ever just known that you belong, that you can be yourself, and felt “This is the right place for me”? Of course you have. Everyone has had those experiences.
It’s the same in the workplace. There comes a point when you just know whether it is or isn’t a good fit with your values and beliefs, even if there was no lecture on the organization’s values. You won’t stick around a place for very long when you feel in your heart and in your soul that you don’t belong. This is why people’s years of managerial experience and hierarchical level help explain differences in the extent of personal values clarity, whereas such factors as gender, educational level, and functional discipline do not.5 The most talented people, no matter their age or background, gravitate to companies where they can look forward to going to work each day because their values “work” in that organizational setting. Julie
Low High Clarity of Personal Values
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