Do I Stay or Do I Go?

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Do I Stay or Do I Go?

During my own onboarding experience, I explore recommendations on evaluating workplace values alignment

I have sat on this post for some time now. I have chronicled my job search woes and excitements over the last three years. Putting my thoughts into my posts has helped me look at the experiences with some distance and objectivity. Some topics have been challenging to document, while others have been easy to write about. This topic has me flummoxed.

A few months ago, I started a new job. I was excited about the work because I thought I would be at a place that aligned with my values. What I’ve discovered, recently, is that may not be entirely the case.

Since starting my current job, the values have been a little fuzzy in my work.
Photo by Bernardo Dadic on Scopio

The alignment of values, both personal and work-related, have been important enough for me that I called my company Leadership and Values in Action. My tagline is “Leadership is the Expression of Values.” I’ve written posts about the importance of values alignment with the work we do and knowing when it is time to move on when there is a misalignment.

Now I am trying to decide if my personal values and work values are out of alignment.

Because if they are out of alignment, then I really need to decide whether I should stay or I should go.


The Value of Workplace Values Alignment

This exploration of values alignment with my current job means something to me. There are benefits to finding alignment, including occupying more senior positions in the workplace. You can narrow down the choices among several positions to find the best job. And they can impact your team’s decision-making process. For me, value alignment is a way to know when and how to hold someone accountable.

I’ve chosen to leave workplaces when institutional politics worked against me. Or when the work did not match the professional development goals I had. I’ve even left a job for health-related reasons.

Below are recommendations on how to start the process of evaluating your workplace values alignment.

Focus on the Overlap, Not the Conflict

Kathy Caprino, in Forbes Magazine, shares: “Aligning your values with the values of another requires a willingness to see where they overlap, rather than focus on the places where they might conflict.  That’s the first step towards establishing the common ground on which you can collaborate.

“For example, while one colleague may value order and process highly, and the other spontaneity and creative flair, (which could be perceived as a source of conflict), nevertheless there is a clear point of alignment around the fact that both honor self-expression.

“To really be successful, this kind of conversation will need to be rooted in a shared commitment to serve the organization’s (and each other’s) greater good, and may benefit from the use of some basic coaching skills such as deep listening, acknowledgment, and powerful questions.”

My instincts tell me that this is a solution that will only work if I can overlook the areas of conflict that don’t feel significant or closely aligned with my values.

Any working relationship requires negotiating areas of overlap in values occur against areas of conflict that will occur. Photo by  Brit Worgan on Scopio.

Talk to your boss

Michelle Garrett, in Muck Rack Blog, shares: “If you have a good relationship with your manager, you can start there.

“Have an honest conversation with your supervisor,” said Meade. “Not too long ago, I found myself in the position of being asked to work on a project that did not align with my values.” 

“Instead of going along with it, knowing his heart wouldn’t be in it, he decided to discuss it openly with his supervisor. “My supervisor understood and was gracious enough to allow me to work on another project that was a better fit.”  

I have found this solution works well when you trust and respect your supervisor.

Ask yourself the tough questions 

In my post, Four Ways to Know When It’s Time to Move On, I recommend the following:

“What are my goals?  Am I happy?  Am I done learning here?  What is next for me?” Too often we get lost in our jobs, both the fun and the tedious parts, so much that we don’t take the time to reflect on our own goals.   New professionals may not know when to start asking these questions; I would suggest within the first year on the job. 

“Experienced professionals may have additional competing priorities that keep them from honestly exploring these questions.  I found that asking myself these tough questions helped me write my annual review and create new goals, and I knew it was time to get a terminal degree when all my new goals required more education and training.

“Even today, I find that even with the terminal degree, I am looking for different types of professional opportunities that may not reside within higher education or even education.  These tough questions make the idea of career changes more manageable since I am seeking answers to these questions.”

In my current situation, I need to ask myself more tough questions – when behaviors I am willing to accept and those I find as a deal-breaker to stay or go.

Choose Your Battles

Michelle Garrett, in Muck Rack Blog, shares: “Don’t make the mistake of trying to change too many things at once.

“Don’t be seen as the person who is critical of everything the organization does,” said communications professional Bob Neufeld. “Always do your best to propose rational and reasonable alternatives that you can live with and be willing to compromise when necessary.”

For some jobs, I decided to stick it out. Others, I chose to leave. In my current situation, I deciding if this is a battle I want to engage in.


At the Crossroads

My efforts to be transparent and vulnerable, on my journey to explore the intersection of my values and my leadership capabilities, often leave me confused. I lean into the discomfort and try to discern new lessons learned. But the outcomes can sometimes leave me at a crossroads. For instance, do I leave a job where my values are not valued? Or do I focus on where my values overlap and overlook the areas where they don’t?

Right now, I don’t have many answers. But I am confident that this self-awareness will lead me to an outcome that fits who I am. Because I am sure about one thing: the only thing that matters to me, at the end of the day, is my integrity.

About Post Author

Joseph Rios, EdD

I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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