Your professional values are the core ethics and values you uphold and demonstrate in the workplace. They can include actions, skills, and behaviors that many companies actively seek out and want to see in an employee.
A number of professional values can be key to career success. They can be crucial to your performance at work.
How values help you succeed at work
Professional values are traits that often include behaviors and soft skills needed to build and sustain a career. Having the ability to adjust your style of communication and interaction with different groups or teams demonstrates an adaptive and flexible personality, which can have a positive effect on how you are perceived in the workplace.
This is just one example. A value like responsibility will make you desirable at the workplace as someone who is accountable for their actions and can be trusted.
Loyalty to a company can help you succeed at work too. If you stick with them in tough times, like a recession, you might reap the benefits at times of economic growth. You might be rewarded for your loyalty with a big bonus or a promotion. This depends on the company and its own set of values. It’s always good if your values correspond to your employer’s.
The importance of consistency
The traits you demonstrate at work influence how your employer, coworkers, and clients or partners perceive you and interact with you. You’re demonstrating to everyone you interact with that you have confidence and self-worth and want to succeed when you have strong, constructive, and consistent professional values. What’s more, your professional values can be critical in terms of demonstrating your ability to take on more important and challenging tasks, which can help you advance professionally in the future.
List of professional values
- Time management
- Team working
- Communication and presentation
Professional values to adopt
Responsibility is at the top of most people’s lists when it comes to professional values. It mainly involves keeping any promises you’ve made related to work but also offering help or support when needed.
A professional who upholds responsibility as a value is capable of meeting objectives. They make sure they perform as well as possible and complete the tasks that they take on. Demonstrating this value shows superiors, coworkers, and subordinates that you are committed to contributing to company growth and achieving goals.
Honesty and integrity are related values, both of which can help you build a strong foundation of professional values. Your supervisors or coworkers will be more likely to turn to you when they need reliable input if you are open and honest in your communication with them. What’s more, you show you can be trusted when you’re honest in your work, which is crucial for building strong professional relationships.
Integrity can help you build supportive and reliable relationships. It means you’re reliable and honest in your communications and interactions with others.
Reliable professionals are punctual, follow through on their commitments, and are on track with their work objectives. Demonstrating reliability can lead to more challenging projects that can help you move forward in your career. Your superiors will be more likely to trust you with important tasks.
People who demonstrate accountability in the workplace take responsibility for their behavior and actions in the workplace. You uphold more than one value when you’re accountable for your behavior and conduct in the workplace. You also demonstrate your responsibility, honesty, adaptability, and positive attitude, particularly when you seek input and feedback to improve your performance.
Adaptability to different situations is a very helpful value in the workplace. It makes it easier to navigate interactions with different types of people. Issues and challenges can arise in any field of professional activity. Adaptable people can adjust their approach to resolving issues in challenging situations.
Being able to motivate yourself is critical to have as a core value. Staying motivated at work will help you find meaning in your job, stay satisfied with it, remain passionate about it, and inspire others. Many employers look for people who can stay motivated on their own because this ability demonstrates a strong need to achieve not only personal but also corporate success.
Companies usually look for staff that will stay loyal to their organization. Loyal employees do their job for the benefit of their employer, superiors, and team and remain committed to supporting the company’s development and growth.
By demonstrating loyalty to your employers, you’re showing them that you care about how the organization achieves success and that your job matters to you.
You can develop confidence at the workplace as you master challenging tasks, solve problems, ask for feedback, and apply it to improve your performance. By focusing on improving your skills and on your professional development, you’re showing that you trust your ability to grow and succeed professionally.
What’s more, you can build confidence by accepting tasks you aren’t typically responsible for, like giving a presentation or leading a team meeting.
Employees who are compassionate support each other, offer help when needed, and find ways to let others know they care. Compassion helps people build meaningful relationships by leading to a deeper understanding of others’ feelings. At the workplace, this value is crucial for resolving conflict, solving problems, and giving and receiving constructive feedback.
Patient people deal with challenges more effectively. They can find the right solutions to problems and ultimately cope with work-related stress more easily. Being patient can help you find solutions to issues, overcome challenges, understand other people’s perspectives, and complete tasks accurately and comprehensively.
Being empathetic means understanding others’ points of view, feelings, and ideas. If it becomes a professional value, this trait can help you relate to people at the workplace and find common interests with them.
Empathy can even help you build friendships at work, which will make your job more fulfilling and contribute to an all-around supportive environment. It helps people adapt to different interactions, making relating to others easier.
Like adaptability, flexibility as a professional value reveals an ability to stay open-minded and willing to help others and take on challenges. In addition, being flexible at work means your superiors can rely on you to provide support to a coworker, handle a last-minute task, or take on additional projects outside your usual job responsibilities.
Professional vs. personal values
Professional and personal values can overlap, but they can be completely different. Personal values tend to change as a person develops. This happens through social influences, life experience, growing awareness, and an improved understanding of human nature. On the other hand, professional values are more like a formal guide to adhere to. They aim to create a professional culture that tries to set boundaries for conduct and improves practice.
How to identify your professional values
Begin by establishing what is most important in your career among many different and often mutually exclusive values. Most commonly, professional values include income, stability, advancement, the opportunity to live abroad, excitement, travel, creativity, growth, flexibility in schedule and location, mentorship, purpose, title and stature, recognition, work-life balance, contribution to your community, entrepreneurship, leadership, engagement, collaboration, competition, team culture, etc.
After articulating several values that resonate most with you, prioritize them, so it’s easier to see if there is any conflict between two or more values. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it important for me to work for a famous brand?
- Am I looking for an opportunity to do a specific type of work?
- Am I looking for upward mobility, or do I crave flexibility?
- Is making money more important than working for an organization that aligns with my personal values?
- Am I willing to make less money to work for an organization I’m proud of?
- Is an impressive job title more important to me than the tasks and responsibilities?
Be true to yourself
In pursuing an important professional value like making more money, you might move to a new city or country where you have no friends or family, and this wouldn’t be a problem for you. A lot of people think making money is their top professional value, but their behavior says otherwise.
Money probably isn’t a priority if you don’t want to travel regularly, aren’t willing to move to get a raise, and don’t want to be on call for emergencies. Instead, your priorities might be a better work/life balance, a flexible schedule, or full autonomy. There is nothing wrong with that at all.
When articulating a set of values, don’t base it on what society dictates. Being honest about what matters most to you is far more important. You’re the one that has to live with your career.
If you feel frustrated in your career, there could be a misalignment between your values and your work goals. It might be that your professional values have changed with time. Defining professional values can help you build a meaningful and sustainable career. Otherwise, you’re perpetually searching for something you can’t put your finger on.