Three tips to collaboratively design your team’s values

by | Apr 20, 2021 | Leading Organizations, Managing Teams

The Sanger team recently re-evaluated our organization’s values: they are now more action-oriented and represent all quadrants of the Michigan Model of Leadership. It had been several years since our team’s values were created, and in that time, our center has grown substantially and has had new team members and leaders. Coming up with the five values we selected was a collaborative process among all team members, and we thought we’d share some of the learnings about the process.

  1. It can be done when everyone is remote. We used tools such as Google Jamboard and spreadsheets to generate ideas, come to a consensus, and score our top choices. Review our process here.
  2. Action-based values are best. The center’s values before used adjectives to describe what we envisioned. We switched to a format now where each value is now a verb: Be an owner. Cultivate inclusive community… and more! By making the values verb-based, we can more clearly see ourselves doing each of these actions.
  3. Ensure the team is living their values by weaving them in often. We’re doing an experiment right now where one team member each week shares an example of the team living its values. We identify one team member and one value each week. For example, last week, a team member reported on “Deliver high-quality work.” He shared that the student co-chairs of LDRx have done an exemplary job all year and have created a new standard of excellence for next year’s co-chairs.

Values are an important part of any team—from student organizations to nonprofits to large corporations—we recommend writing and publishing your values widely! Publishing your values may attract similarly-minded team members, and when that happens, productivity and commitment are greatly enhanced.1 If you have any questions or comments about creating team values, feel free to comment on this post or reach out to us.

1. O’Reilly III, C. A., Chatman, J., & Caldwell, D. F. (1991). People and organizational culture: A profile comparison approach to assessing person-organization fit. Academy of management journal, 34(3), 487-516.