Values Collision, How to Ruin a Great Day at Work

You wake up at 5:30 to get the early train. You are the first to arrive at work, you have a busy week ahead of you, as well as a full day today.

You prep for your Monday morning team meeting. Notes, handouts, metrics – everything is just the way you like it.  It’s 9 am and you’re ready to go!

Then the train starts to go off the rails.  Two critical team members are late.  The video link to Europe isn’t connecting.  And just when you’re ready to go, in walks the last team member carrying a birthday coffee cake with candles.

Total derailment from a values collision.  Here’s how:

  • You value accuracy, commitment, order, timeliness, and unity.
  • The two members that were late value acceptance, compassion, flexibility, resourcefulness, and tolerance.
  • The birthday singer values belonging, boldness, connection, generosity and spontaneity (yes it was about surprising everyone).

All the values listed above, as they stand alone, are impressive and needed in part by every team.  But under stress (full work load), differing values can collide and add to the stress causing frustration, disappointment, performance drop-off and in some cases anger.

Values collide and cause a ton of stress. Below are some suggestions on avoiding the “values collision”.


Go over what happened.   Were your expectations of timeliness clear to your entire team and have you held them accountable to starting on time in the past? Is commitment and order a cultural value of your company, or is it just a personal value? Does everyone get a birthday celebration?


Has your team’s flexibility and resourcefulness been a bonus for you and in this case do you need to take the good with the bad? They stay late without notice to complete a project, is it ok then to be late another day?


What values can you slide on? Can you see a differing value as a plus to the situation? Is there a middle ground? 


Time for you to be clear on your expectations. Also, a good time to check in that your values are those of the CEO and /or Board and of your clients. If you have a strong value on order and your model clients value flexibility you might, in the end lose, clients. If one or more of your values is  a priority it is your job to be clear to each person, so they are aware of the expectation.  Then, next time, hold them accountable. 


Knowing your values, your team’s values and the values of both your company and your clients is the first step to preventing a values collision. Then, be clear on what values are a priority.

Try to make it as simple as possible “Duty, Honor, Courage” (US Military Academy) is very clear as is “Integrity, Leadership, Ownership, Passion for Winning, and Trust” (Proctor and Gamble).

Try starting your team meetings with someone reciting the company’s values.  Add your values to the bottom of your email signature. Reward your team and give notice when a strong value of a team member helps the team to success.

Have you experienced a “values collision”?  Please add your comments. I’d love to hear from you.

And go here for more information on Cornerstone certified coaching in Boston or anywhere in the world.

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