As Indianapolis consultants, we often comment on the role of values at work. It’s easy for this to be dismissed by people whose jobs seem like drudgery rather than a place of opportunity. But whether you talk about it or not, every workplace is characterized by values.
The conversation about values has been popular among several Indianapolis consultants lately, both in person and over social media. But to begin: what is a value?
Here’s a straightforward definition:
Values are preferences that represent what people believe to be appropriate courses of action.
That should give you a clue that values aren’t necessarily positive. And values are what people believe, not necessarily what management prints on the wall.
An organization might value fear. It might value people exhausting themselves by working 100 hour weeks. It might value secrecy.
On the other hand, an organization can value trust. It can value honesty. An organization could value transparency.
We’ve all worked at companies where the organization doesn’t value what we value. Or maybe they say they care about something, but their actions and policies highlight something else.
So what is the most important value at work? Is it integrity? Commitment? Being customer-focused?
I was speaking with another Indianapolis consultant the other day, and it hit me. While all of these are good, the most essential value in a workplace is dignity.
Every other value that might benefit your organization stems from human dignity.
If people have a fundamental worth—if we care about their opinions, their health, and their capacity to contribute—then it is easy to discover our values at work.
Dignity is what matters most. If you have it, you can do anything. If you don’t, you won’t have a reason to stay.