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  • Tamar Balkin

How Do Values Help Our Well-Being ?

I have two new clients in very different industries who have both requested coaching because they do not want 2020 to be as overwhelming as 2019. Interestingly they are both in careers that they enjoy and roles where they find purpose and meaning and challenge, however they have both recognised their wellbeing is sub optimal and they will need to change things in their life and work. Despite the fact that values have a really bad wrap, especially in the corporate world, Ross McIntosh in his interviews with both Dayna Lee- Baggley  and Richard McKinnon reminded me of the critical role they play in our wellbeing.  People are more likely to experience positive well-being when they can express and fulfil their values and thus attain their goals. When the situational context blocks people's realisation of their values, they are likely to experience negative well-being. Interestingly when there is a match between people's values and their environment promotes well-being regardless of the particular values to which people ascribe importance. Values can help in the following contexts:

  • Enable us in a pressured or conflicting situation to pause and think about “When am I at my best what would I do?”

  • In a pressured situation they can give us perspective: remind oneself about what matters in life, ie arriving safely will trump speeding and shouting at other drivers.

  • In a forced choice situation, they guide decision making  In our interpersonal interactions especially at work they explain our discomfort with the behaviour of others.

  • In our careers and the management of the careers of others, values clarity can enhance job satisfaction and performance

But how do we know what our values are? A good place to start is to simply pause to think about what matters to you, think about whether  are you spending your life doing the things you most value? There is a multitude of models and assessments of values varying in their focus and level of sophistication. (Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury has reviewed many of the values assessments in the marketplace, and like any good psychologists she lets the reader decide what is best for them. Simple tools like the life web or a leisure values checklist (on the resources page of my website) can provide some broad overview for direction. However, I find with my clients it is often useful to use the Hogan Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI) to look at values from a deeper level as they pertain to the workplace context. In addition, the Meaning Purpose and Direction section of the GLWS will link the values to current wellbeing behaviours. But what about the workplace, and those lovely signs on walls and words on web pages? Regular readers would be aware that if an organisation plays lip service to something, the employees, customers and other stakeholders notice immediately. Thus, readers who are in senior executive positions have a responsibility to ensure that the culture and their behaviour and that of others is aligned with the workplace values. As a leader, you need:

Awareness of your own values and how you want them to manifest in life and work.

Knowledge of the values of your each of your direct reports and how you can help them to translate them into action.

Remember that your values are like a map, the clearer the markings, the more useful they are in complex situations.


References: more are available on request Hogan Assessments - Manual and assessment tool GLWS - Manual and assessment tool L SagivSH Schwartz – (2000) Value priorities and subjective well‐being: Direct relations and congruity effects. European Journal of Social Psychology. 30, 177-198 (2000) My Pocket Psych: The Psychology of the Workplace: 053: PsychFlex in Action 1: Values into Action with Ross McIntosh Dr Dayna Lee-Baggley : Healthy Habits SuckPeople Soup - psychology@work Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury has reviewed many of the values assessments in the marketplace, and like any good psychologists she lets the reader decide what is best for them.

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