by Stephanie South
What does it take to share values and overcome stress?
Almost ten years ago my coach said to me stress is the symptom of living according to someones else expectations rather than our own expectations; it’s trying to be what they value, not what you value.”
This epiphany blew me away for a number of reasons. As a professional business woman I often felt like an impostor, I was always struggling up against thoughts of ‘I’m not good enough compared to them’. ‘The them in that situation was a tired old legacy of hierarchical management that didn’t value people as creative profiteering opportunities, they valued people as resources they could use, until they burned out and then swapped them out.
Rather than persisting or trying to ‘be like them’. I stood by my values, left that gig and created a career totally driven from my values – people are wonderful creative beings who, when nurtured, deliver amazing business outcomes.
Now as a business leader with a team of over 200 agilists, my accountability to them is to ensure our values are lived and protected every day. Yes, even today we constantly need to protect ourselves from the corrosion of others’ expectations on how we work.
There’s a number of ways I’ve helped my teams do this.
The first is a Team Crest Exercise. It takes the team charter to another level so that the team solidifies around their values, their shared identity and makes clears what they stand together for. The benefit of taking the time to discuss what we value, how we will behave with each other and the symbolism that represents, is a team that expedites ‘growing by errors’ – or what many know as storming.
A Team Crest includes:
- A visual symbol that everyone identifies with – a logo
- A mantra that to encourages toward our purpose
- A purpose, our why
- An outcome, our what we’ll create
- A set of principles that guide ‘how we behave’
- A set of agreed values that bind the foundation of who we are
Crests are a key part of every culture. Every Country has a flag that represents their nation, who they are and what they stand for. Companies have brands that symbolise who they are and what they offer.
I am of Scottish descent and our clans all had crests that bound us to our purpose; ‘for liberty’. I took the Wallace Clan Crest as inspiration to create an exercise for teams to build a purposeful bond around their values.
The Crest Exercise is a series of simple steps:
- Prepare Materials; poster, paper for creative drawing, sharpies (must-coloured)
- Introduce the objective, shape Our Identity by creating a team poster that includes our crest with a logo, a motto, our values, team name and mantra
- Shape the session (depending on your numbers) create pairs and trios for the creative ideation steps (helps those nervous about ‘creativity’ or the ‘arty’ aspect of the game)
- Each pair picks an element to play with, be creative, ideate – draw inspiration from each other
- Values, it helps to provide the team with a full list of values, have them circle which ones are important and discuss why
- Logo; draw inspiration from each other, what characters, animals, symbols represent what we value
- Mantra; is value statement, a call to action, a guiding saying
- Purpose; sometimes one in the same as a mantra; always good to call out
- Name – of course, how do people know its you
- Share back with the team, give feedback and select the elements that fit the team (vote if need be)
- As a team draw your final poster together adding your values and your mantra
The exercise is intended to help the team bond. The additional gain is that it helps teams better face the ’stresses’ of the workplace together. Knowing that you share your challenges with someone who cares about what you do makes the tough days a lot easier.
➔ More stress management techniques
The not so obvious gain I’ve seen happen during the sessions is that the game is a simple way to help be creative together without judgement. Bringing in the creativity into the team is like a little dose of courage to people who otherwise may have been shy about experimenting with expression ‘outside’ the norm.