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How to align on shared team values: a workshop design guide

Do your personal values align with your company values and those of your employees? Following six steps, you can work out your company values on your own.

Journey to a dream team series: What is a dream team? What does it take? And how will you get there? The journey includes several iterations, feedback loops, coaching, presentations, and developing handy visual tools to manifest the implemented changes along the way. We will be sharing all insights with you in the upcoming five separate articles: The best team setup, Build a vision & mission, Team values & behaviours, Right goal setting, Communication & feedback. Every article will include a substantial piece of content, concept/method you can download and work through with your team. 

Do your personal values align with your company values and those of your employees? Do you even know your values and how to align them with the people you work with? If not, having a workshop in which you develop and define shared values in a team might be just the thing for you!  

At Wayra, it is our mission – and one of our shared values – to find innovative startups, support them on different levels and pave the way for a mutually beneficial collaboration. Together with one of our successfully supported startups, CONUFACTUR has put together a workshop design guide that allows you to work independently on creating shared values in your company – without any expensive coaching. Let your business become part of our startup community!

Executive Summary

  • If your company has no clear values, your team members must rely on their personal values, which can lead to miscommunication and conflict.
  • Establishing company values that are shared values promotes harmony and ensures that your team has clear instructions on how to act in certain situations.
  • Creating shared values does not necessarily call for a professional workshop. Following six steps, you can work out your company values on your own.  

A definition of shared values

Every person has their own personal values according to which they act on a day-to-day basis. Those values can immensely differ from other people’s values, potentially resulting in conflict. Shared values are just what the term suggests – values we share with the people around us. The more our values align with those around us, the more we move in the same direction and the more harmonious we are in doing so.  

Why you might need to align your shared values

Despite often being deprioritized, your company values are extremely important: They can affect how your staff handles difficult situations, how successful your company reaches its goals and how well your employees work together. They set the tone for your startup culture and make the difference between people being happy with work or not.  

When your employees’ personal values do not align with your company values, fundamental discussions will arise, job satisfaction will decrease, engagement will drop and personal relationships will suffer. That is why many modern companies follow the principle: “Hire for attitude, train for skills”.

Before you can align your shared values as a founder

If the company’s values collide with the founder’s personal values, problems will inevitably arise. As a rule of thumb, 70% of the founder’s values should match the company values. That means before you start aligning your values with your team, you need to be clear about your personal values.  

You should prioritize your top 5 personal values – preferably with a sparring partner or coach to come up with reliable results. We used this list to cluster ten personal values for each individual and shrank them down to 5 in the next round. For me, personally, trust and honesty ranked really high.  

Creating shared value – how to workshop yourself

Hiring a professional coach to work out your company’s shared value might just not be in the budget if you are an up-and-coming startup. CONUFACTUR, one of our community startups, has designed a workshop concept, with which you can individually determine your shared value on your own:

  • Step 1: The Is-Analysis

Reflect on the current situation: What are special features and characteristics of today’s working methods and corporate management? Try to include as many different perspectives as possible and ensure an open and non-judgemental atmosphere to gather a broad collection of values and behaviours.

  • Step 2: Future Scenario I

Brainstorm what values and behaviours will be helpful to the company in the future to ensure long-term success. Analyze both customer requirements and the ideal team constellation.

  • Step 3: Future Scenario II

As a team, think about social developments, strategic goals and business challenges and derive values that will influence future actions and cooperation.

  • Step 4: Value cluster

Categorize the values you have collected in the first three steps into core values, aspirational values and permission-to-play values. Only use a selection that you agree on in the team and make sure that there is a balance between core and aspirational values.  The core values describe the actual state of your corporate values while the aspirational values are those that your company does not currently act upon, but which are important for the future. Permission-to-play values are minimum basic values.  

Example: At Wayra, we defined six values  in our first session (see below). After some time, we came back to this overview and every team member was allowed to add one more that they thought was missing for them.

Wayra Values

  • Step 5: Selection of values

Decide beforehand whether you want your team to select the company’s shared values or whether you want to have the final say. A veto right would make sense since we already established that the company values should match the founder’s personal values to great extent. In the picture above, you can see that at each Wayra team member was allowed to choose five values through dot ranking. The values with the highest numbers were chosen as Wayra's shared values.

  • Step 6: Definition and next steps

Your shared values should not just be mere theory gathering dust on your website but serve as a basis for hiring, feedback discussions and strategic decisions. Thus, it is necessary that you define what the values mean in concrete terms, how they are supposed to influence actions and decisions, what will need to change and how the values can become practice. At Wayra, we started defining our values by thinking of how each value could reach their extremes, if lived by too much or too little. Finally, we came up with a clear and easily understandable definition.

Taking the time, having enough team members to participate, creating an open environment for them to do so and finding someone in the team who is willing to mediate the workshop, you can successfully elaborate your company’s shared value by following the CONUFACTUR workshop structure. In addition, we at Wayra were very grateful to receive professional support by CONUFACTUR's expert with defining our shared values. Having an external participant join your workshop might help your team stay more focussed, discover new possibilities, and stay open to new paths you might not have thought about before. Feel free to contact Anja Sinz from CONUFACTUR's team to learn more.

Franziska Knoblich
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June 24, 2021
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