Overwhelmed man with head down on desk

When you go to work do you feel constrained and uncomfortable? 

You know the feeling. It’s like pulling on a shirt or sweater that’s too small. You can’t wait to get it off, it’s driving you crazy. And it looked so good on the shelf!

That’s how it feels when you work for a company whose values don’t match yours.

In today’s economy, you may ignore the warning signs of a misfit. After all, it’s a job! You know how to do it, the pay is good, and so is the benefits package. You reassure yourself you just need to get to know them…

But let me tell you: You deserve more than that!

The first thing to do is to figure out what your values are…

I have facilitated more strategic planning retreats with leadership teams than I can count. Below is a list of company values. Check out which values resonate with you – some will and some won’t.

  • Do it from the heart
  • Show up on time
  • Recognize our clients' unspoken needs
  • Treat people as though they were your loved ones
  • Educate clients to be self-reliant and make good decisions
  • Value craftsmanship, care, and pride in our work
  • Praise each other
  • Work hard and play hard
  • Be remarkable
  • Be creative and innovative
  • Our culture is key  – Cool, Hilarious, Community, High Five
  • Treat clients and partners with respect
  • Care about our clients’ issues/causes
  • Invest in relationships with each other to make our company a place we love to work
  • Take responsibility for your own professional development
  • Strive to be as sustainable as possible in all our business practices
  • Act from care and concern about the company as a whole
  • Be resourceful in getting the job done
  • Have a creative spirit – don’t get stuck in old ways
  • Work ethically to achieve business goals and social mission
  • Enthusiasm for making a difference in our community
  • We are a solutions company – our answer is yes we can
  • Infectious loyalty to each other
  • Celebrate the success of the team
  • Set the curve – don’t follow it
  • A “real” culture – wild, creative, open – it’s open

Does your company share your values?

How can you tell?

  • How are you greeted when you arrive?
  • What’s the mood?
  • Is it quiet or animated?
  • How do you treat each other?
  • What do people seem most concerned about?
  • Who are the employees who get recognized? If you describe their behavior those are the company’s real values, not the ones posted in reception.
  • How do people actually a treat customer? Actions speak louder than words.
  • How do you feel? Is this a team I want to be part of?

Working in an organization where your values are different from company values is NOT going to increase your YIPPEE. Your values may not be better or worse than theirs, but if they don’t fit, it will be just like that uncomfortable, constraining shirt.

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About The Author

Elizabeth B. Crook's picture

Elizabeth B. Crook is CEO of Orchard Advisors. For over twenty years, she has worked with CEO's and entrepreneurs to think and act strategically to grow their companies' bottom line and have more overall satisfaction. She has a gift for making sense of complex situations and mapping them so creative and practical approaches emerge. Clients speak of her insight, skill, authenticity, and willingness to ask the hard questions in a gentle way. 

She is also the bestselling author of Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next. Recent media features include ForbesFast CompanyDaily WorthPBS Next AvenueThrive Global, Conscious Company, and BetterBook Club.

A mother, grandmother, and ardent hiker, she lives on Music Row in Nashville. 

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