How strong is your team’s foundation? Do team members see their role as being both a “great team citizens” and a peak performer? Or, is “getting stuff out the door” the only driver for players?

In my work with senior leadership teams engaged in our proven culture change process, I find that 90% of senior leadership teams I’ve observed are not “teams,” at all. Most are “groups” of individuals competing every day for limited time, funds, and resources. This behavior is common but not helpful when trying to build a high performing, values-aligned work environment.

High performing, values-aligned teams have a common purpose, common values, and common goals. Team members demonstrate commitment to everyone’s success, not just their own. What separates “good” teams from “great” teams is their values foundation, agreement on HOW they’ll work with each other & employees (not just WHAT will get done). When values are defined and valued behaviors are formalized, team dynamics shift away from “isolated performers” and towards “connected colleagues.” The benefits are tremendous and measurable – high performing, values aligned teams demonstrate greater performance & profits, higher customer satisfaction, and greater employee work passion than teams without a values foundation.

Here’s a great example: I’ve been coaching a client on the power of team chartering. He’s leading a project with a group of college students that is doing volunteer work, living together in a rented house for two months. He has facilitated the team creating their charter and is coaching members in how to praise and/or redirect behavior that either IS or IS NOT part of their chartered valued behaviors.

Last week they were visited by two people who stayed with the group for a few days. Unfortunately, one of the visitors was very focused on his personal agenda, despite the needs or wants of anyone else. When the visitors left, the team quickly pointed out, “Wow, I think observing them helped me realize how rough things would be if we all focused on ourselves rather than our team values.” One of the students added, “I actually wanted to show him our agreed-upon values and ask him to respect them as long as he was with us.”

That might not have gone over well with the visitor! And, what a great demonstration of how well the volunteer team has embraced their values and behaviors.

If your team has a singular focus on individual performance, consider adding a solid foundation of values and valued behaviors to the mix. As the team learns to perform according to values guidelines, team comeraderie and mutual respect will grow exponentially.

One other thought about values-aligned team members: On this Memorial Day in the USA, remember those who serve and have served. If you have a job opening, seriously consider hiring a veteran. There are few people on the planet more “values aligned” than those with military service.

What are your experiences with team values (for better or worse)? Tell us in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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