Value elicitations

Value elicitations are important in both business and personal life. There is an ultimate value everyone looks for in work. It will make a person take a job, and if not fulfilled or if violated it will make him leave it. For some people, it may be money. If you pay them enough, you will keep them. But for many others, it’s something else. It might be creativity or challenge or a sense of family.

It’s crucial for managers to know the supreme value of their employees. To elicit it, the first thing to ask is, what would it take to cause you to join an organization? Let’s say the employee answers, a creative environment. You develop a list of what is important about that by asking, what else would it take? Then you would want to know, even if all those existed, what would cause him to leave. Suppose then answer is, ‘A lack of trust’. You would keep on probing from there: Even if there were a lack of trust, what would make you stay? Some people might say that they would never stay in an organization with a lack of trust. If so, that’s ultimate value – the thing they must have to stay at a job. Someone else might say he would stay, even if there was no trust, if he had a chance to rise through the organization. Keep probing and questioning until you’ve found the things the person has to have to stay happy, and then you’ll know in advance what would make him leave. The value words people use are like super-anchors – they have strong emotional associations. To be even more effective, be clear: How would you know when you have that? How do you know when you don’t have that?

Also, it’s critically important to note a person’s evidence procedure to determine how your concept of trust differs form his. He may believe there is trust only if he’s never questioned in his decisions. He may believe there is a lack of trust if his job responsibility is changed without a clear explanation to him. It is invaluable for a manager to understand these values and be able to anticipate in advance when dealing with people in any given situation.

There are some managers who figure they’re being good motivators if they’re good on their own terms. They think, ‘I pay this guy good money, so I expect such and such in return’. Well, that’s true to an extent. But various people value different things. For some, the most important thing is to work with people they care about. When those people start drifting off, the job loses its luster. Some value a sense of creativity and excitement. Some value other things. If you want to manage well, you need to know an employee’s supreme values and how to fulfill them. If you don’t provide those, you’ll lose him, or at least never have him working at peak performance and enjoying his job.

Does all this take more time and sensitivity? Sure. But if you value the people you work with, it’s worth it for your sake and for theirs. Remember that values have enormous emotional power. If you just manage form your values and assume you’re being fair form your point of view, you’ll probably spend a lot of time feeling bitter and betrayed. If you can bridge the values gap, you’ll probably have happier associates, friends, and family members and you’ll feel happier yourself. It’s not essential in life to have the same values as someone else. But it is essential to be able to align yourself with other people, to realize what their values are, support them and work with them.

Values are the most powerful motivating tool we have. If you want to change a bad habit, the change can be made very rapidly if you will link the successful maintenance of that change with high values. One woman who placed a extremely high value on pride and respect. So what she did was write a note to the five people she respects most in the world, saying that she would never smoke again, that she had more respect for her own personal body and for others than to ever allow it to happen again. After she sent her letters out, she quit. There were many times when she said she would have given anything for a cigarette, but her pride would never let her go back. It was a value more important that the feeling of puffing on a cigarette. Today she is a healthy non-smoker. Values properly used have the greatest power in changing our behavior.