I have a friend who spent two years on a job that left her completely discontented, confused, and disillusioned. She never addressed her grievances, negotiated her pay and workload, or tried to rectify the situation during her time there.
This is the same friend who would refuse to eat at a table that served meat or dairy products, organised marches, and participated in protests for the things she strongly valued.
However, speaking up for herself and her values at work was something she never even considered doing.
Discomfort and conflicting interests are considered to be the natural order of things at the workplace. “It’s called a job for a reason,” the friend rolled her eyes at me once when I asked her why she wasn’t speaking up for her needs at work.
While every job doesn’t have to be the dream job or your one true source of happiness, and jumping ship isn’t something all of us can consider, it’s important to know your work values and do your best to ensure your company’s values align with them.
How To Identify Your Work Values
Identifying your work values can help you value yourself and your work more.
Take the time out every quarter to do a little self-assessment. List down all the work values you can think of – punctuality, reliability, team spirit, positivity, autonomy, honesty, etc.
Work values are personal and subjective. A need to constantly keep learning and growing may be of paramount importance to you while the need to be recognised and praised may not be as important.
Give each work value a score between 1 to 5 or rank them in order of how important they are to you.
This will help you identify what matters to you at the present as well as your long-term personal and professional goals. It will help you understand where you are ready to compromise, and what your non-negotiables are.
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Signs Your Company’s Values Don’t Align With Your Work Values
Even with a regular self-assessment, it can be hard to gauge the fact that you are not getting what you need from external factors.
Here are some signs to lookout for at your job – red flags that indicate that you and your company might not be compatible.
The Workplace Doesn’t Practice What It Preaches
If you took the job believing the company values will be a good fit for your work values, but there is a constant clash between what you expect and what the company expects of you, either your values have changed or the company doesn’t practice what it preaches.
If you increasingly find that the reality within the workplace isn’t the same as what is projected and promised on paper, it’s not only a sign that the company is being deceptive, but also that its values are in all likelihood different from what you had hoped.
You Don’t Agree With Company Decisions
This is a clear sign of there being a clash in values. If you disagree with certain leadership decisions or company rules, there’s a fundamental disagreement in how you and your company believe work should be done.
Your Emotions Are Running High All The Time
You may be someone who values cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork above everything else. Then if you’re placed in a competitive and self-serving work environment, you’re likely to feel extremely stressed and upset.
If you regularly find yourself getting angry, stressed, or frustrated as a reaction to the way things are being done at the company, it’s most likely not a good fit for you.
When you feel, subconsciously or consciously, that the way you work doesn’t align with the way the company works, you’re likely to constantly second-guess yourself before doing anything.
If you find yourself feeling nervous before doing mundane things at work, or generally afraid of being called out, you probably already realise that you’re not a good fit at the company – a realisation that’s activating your fight or flight mode all the time.
You Dread Going To Work
There’s ‘Monday blues’ and then there’s constant work dread.
As common as it seems for people to hate their job, it isn’t normal to dread it every morning when you wake up. Take a step back and reflect on what is causing you to feel like this towards your work. Try to identify if it’s something you can address and try to resolve, or if it’s a fundamental conflict between you and your company’s values.
These red flags don’t necessarily mean you must quit. It means you take the time to acknowledge the discrepancies, find ways to address and resolve them and see if there are areas where you can adjust your expectations before you decide whether to stay or go.
So go ahead and reflect on your work values and your workplace’s values. Do your best to make sure the relationship between the two goes from ‘It’s complicated’ to ‘It’s pretty healthy and fulfilling’.
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