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Use shared values to tame work drama

Shared values of service, respect and patience are something companies can measure, and gives employees a clear roadmap for their behavior.

3 min read


A business owner recently told me about the latest staff drama in their company. She lamented, “If only people would live their values, we’d have much less drama at work!”

This owner wants a work culture where people treat each other respectfully while cooperating to wow customers daily. That’s a good thing!

The reality is that, every day, people are living their values. And it frequently causes drama — a lot of drama.

We individual humans learn our values from our parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, bosses, neighbors, pastors and rabbis, etc. Who we hang out with, what we read, and what programs we watch all help reinforce our unique values.

The problem is that the values you live by are rarely the exact same values I live by. So, when you live your values in our workplace, I may be shocked by your plans, decisions and actions. When I live my values, you may be shocked.

Over the years, we’ve all seen people living their values at work — and we’ve seen the drama it can cause.

  • A person takes credit for others’ work.
  • A person blames others for their own mistakes.
  • A person manipulates client orders so their sales look great this quarter. They cancel the orders after receiving commissions.
  • A person throws a tantrum, taking out their frustrations on undeserving colleagues.

What’s missing is shared values founded on serving others — peers and customers. When business leaders formalize their company’s values using measurable behaviors — then model, coach and measure those behaviors daily — they build the foundation of shared values.

For example, if a company has a “teamwork” value and formalizes a behavior like “In every interaction, I operate from my best self with patience, respect and responsiveness” — demonstration of that behavior is easy to observe and monitor.

And, it’s easy to measure. With twice-a-year valued behaviors surveys, employees rate their bosses on how well those bosses demonstrate desired behaviors daily.

Gathering employee feedback on how well bosses live your valued behaviors is the fastest, most reliable way to hold everyone accountable for respect and results.

That quashes values conflicts and drama.


Chris Edmonds is a speaker and author as well as executive consultant, founder and CEO with The Purposeful Culture Group. He has authored or co-authored seven books, including “The Culture Engine” and “Good Comes First.” Edmonds’ videos, posts and podcasts are available at DrivingResultsThroughCulture. Follow Edmonds on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple Podcasts.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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