Have you looked around at your team of coworkers lately and tried to evaluate if they are really enjoying their jobs? Maybe you should. Gallup’s recent US Engagement in the Workplace polls identified that since the COVID-19 pandemic employee engagement levels have dropped for the first time in a decade from 36% to 34%. And the levels are still dropping. In 2022, the percentage of engaged workers is down to 32%. This leaves 68% of current US workers to be moderately or actively disengaged in their work.
The scariest thing about disengaged employees is they typically prefer company. And if they can’t find it easily, they sure can be motivated about creating it. They can spend (read: waste) hours on the complain train, making the case for why they’re unhappy to anyone and everyone who will listen. Don’t you wish they could be that motivated to do their actual work?!
What motivates people to act this way? Your company has a tried and true vetting process that includes a DISC assessment to measure if they have the behavioral capability to do the job, and you provide new team members with tons of great onboarding resources to help them connect with their role and the rest of the team. Plus, you do multiple check-ins during their first year to make sure they have everything they need to do their best work. Why then do people sour on their tasks, stop participating in meetings, make excuses, and overall just seem disconnected?
If you’d like to stack the deck in your favor when it comes to ensuring your team is engaged, you can begin by adding another layer to your assessment process that looks at their engagement match for the role. Consider providing them with a Values assessment.
What is a Values Assessment?
You’ve probably heard, used, or experienced a DISC assessment that is designed to share insights into your behavior, but that only measures how you act. What others can see on the outside. A Values assessment goes deeper, and takes a peek at what’s on the inside. It seeks to measure what motivates you to act the way that you do. It helps to answer the questions: ‘What lights your fire?’ and ‘What gets you out of bed in the morning?’
The first studies into values and motivators were undertaken back in 1914 by Dr. Eduard Spranger who was studying the psychology and ethics of personality. He believed that there were 6 core attitudes or values that were at the heart of all human actions. The 6 values he identified were:
- Aesthetic – form and harmony
- Economic – what is useful
- Political – power and control
- Social – love of people
- Religious – unity and structure
- Theoretical – discovery of truth
Much like Dr. William Marston who laid down the original DISC personality assessment theory, Dr. Spranger never created an instrument to measure levels of engagement in each of these areas.
Enter Dr. Gordon Allport, the 1956 author of ‘The Nature of Personality.’ He took Dr. Spranger’s work, expanded on it, and created the first Values assessment. He rejected both Freud’s psychoanalytical approach to personality which he believed went too deep, and Marston’s behavioral approach which he thought didn’t go deep enough. He placed the most importance on the uniqueness of the individual and the importance of the present context rather rather than past history for understanding personality. Dr. Allport also reinterpreted Spranger’s terminology a bit, removed the Political and added a new dimension, the Individualistic.
In creating the Values Index assessment we use today, we examined the work of both Spranger and Allport, and sprinkled in some guidance from Equal Employment Opportunities Commission regulations. We felt both doctors had valid contributions and saw no need to remove the Political to replace it with Individualistic. Plus the EEOC frowns upon asking people about their Religious leaning, even though that wasn’t Spranger’s intent on using the word. The outcome is the only Values profile available that contains 7 categories of engagement and motivation:
Benefits of Discovering Your Own Values and Motivators
We started out this post looking at your colleagues or coworkers and how they may or may not be engaged in their jobs. We recommend starting your exploration of values and motivators a little closer to home, like in the mirror. Once you have identified your personal engagement triggers, you can ensure you are in a role that allows you to feel you are making an impact into the values dimensions most important to you. Knowing your own key values can also help you to relate to others who might have motivators that are different from your own.
Let’s expand on each dimension a bit and put each into more human terms. This should help you get a handle on your motivators and what dimensions might be critical for other people to experience in their day to day lives.
Understanding the Dimensions of the Values Index Assessment
Understanding the 7 dimensions of the Values Index assessment is key to understanding what motivates and excites you. What are those vital 3 elements you want to experience every day that help you to feel like you’re making an impact in your world. Let’s review each of the 7 dimensions individually and then discuss how to hone in on those vital 3 that really light your fire.
As we’re getting granular about the scoring, know that there are no right or wrong answers. We’re talking about people’s inner fire and what might get them emotional. The scoring creates unique patterns that are personal to each individual. The 3 areas that receive top scores could be considered most motivating to the report owner, while the scores that are lowest may actually be demotivating. Either way, handle with care. These are people’s core beliefs and you’ll want to treat discussions of such sensitive topics carefully.
The Aesthetic Dimension
Those with high scores in the aesthetic area place a great deal of value on beauty of form. They want to see, touch, and feel beauty in everything they do. This is the person who, upon moving into a new space, will want to decorate it with items they have a personal attachment to. They’ll want to move the furniture in a more appealing arrangement, at least to their eyes.
In addition to their preference for a beautiful environment to look at, the feeling of that environment is just as important. They also appreciate harmonious relationships and will work hard to avoid confrontations where possible. They are motivated to maintain a calm environment. Their core beliefs are founded in mutual respect. Giving respect and receiving respect feed their aesthetic needs.
If there is someone with a high aesthetic on your team make sure they have input in what their working environment looks and feels like. Allow them to bring in that small personal item that gives them joy. Talk to them about the harmony, beauty, and balance their work creates for others.
The Economic Dimension
Based on the name, you may think that people with high Economic scores only value things attached to money. While money is a part of it, that’s not all of it. It’s more about results. ROI. What’s the return they can expect from their investment of time, resources, people, or money? What’s coming back their way? They love when they can do things efficiently with little waste, and are interested in what is useful.
Those with high economic scores typically enjoy team initiatives, competition, and coming out on top. They will usually work hard when given an incentive or reward, and could enjoy taking risks that will help them achieve those rewards.
When working with someone with a higher economic score, make sure they can operate inside some type of reward system. They typically like to feel like they have some control over their destiny including the amount of money that they can make and the results they can achieve. Show your work! Folks with higher economic scores enjoy seeing their progress mapped out.
The Individualistic Dimension
This is where your creatives hang out. High individualistic scorers like to be seen as independent and unique, and they love opportunities to stand out from the crowd. They enjoy tweaking existing systems and tasks just a little bit so they can make them their own.
Freedom of expression is one of their passions, so make sure you give them ample opportunity to shine. They get fired up when they can live/work/play by their own rules and they want to feel in charge of their own fate.
You may recognize someone with high individualistic scores when they question word choices or constantly suggest process improvements. Remember how much they enjoy challenging the way things have always been done so they can bring forth their own brand and feel more ownership.
The Political Dimension
Let’s get this said right away: this is not about politics or the government. Not at all! This is about leadership style. How does someone exhibit power and control over themselves and others to get things done.
Those with high political numbers usually enjoy having control over their own level of success. They can be drawn to team initiatives and enjoy opportunities for the team to win. Even if they don’t have a leadership title, being seen as a leader is something they value. You’ll probably see them light up when being recognized for their contributions.
If you are around someone who has a high political score, make sure you include them when praise is being given for accomplishments. They’ll feel left out if you miss them. And remember, even if they don’t have direct reports, you can see their high political in action in the way that they lead themselves.
The Altruistic Dimension
Your high altruists may be easy to spot. They are always putting other people ahead of their own needs, sometimes to a fault. They are driven to help others and enjoy giving of their time, resources, and effort. They appear happiest when they are giving back.
They can be drawn to humanitarian causes and want to contribute to the greater good. They get excited when they can provide aid to their local communities, their families, their neighborhoods, and society in general.
When working with someone who scores high here, make sure they have time to give back. If they don’t directly impact clients or customers, allow for volunteering time in a work day every once in a while. And help them contain their giving at times. They could continue believing in the goodness of others even when there’s evidence to the contrary.
The Regulatory Dimension
Those with higher regulatory numbers value structure, order, and routines. They are fed by the creation of processes that help them understand the structure of the world. They get excited when they can create congruence between their view of their environment and the way in which it actually is.
They usually love to solve complex problems and will dig down deep until they get to the heart of the matter. This helps them to create order out of chaos which is also of keen interest.
Working with a high regulatory scorer is easy if you either provide them with all of the rules and structure they need to succeed or give them input in the creation of said rules. They experience great solace when everyone is operating according to a structure and systems that they approve of.
The Theoretical Dimension
Here’s where your life-long learners hang out. They are driven to seek new learning environments and love the opportunity to explore new topics. They could dig down deep and intimately get to the heart of a topic, or they could prefer to learn a little bit about a variety of different topics.
Many times they enjoy seeking knowledge just for the sake of knowing it, not that they have or need a plan to share it with others. They get charged up by the act of learning and love to get to the bottom of things.
If you hear someone say, ‘I got to learn something new today!’ in a very excited tone, you’re likely in the presence of a high theoretical. They will get their batteries charged by the ability to do research, so if you have a problem to be solved throw it their way. They’ll thank you for it!
How Knowing Your Results Impacts Others
Now that you understand a little bit about each dimension, why is it important to know your own results before you start looking at others? It’s easy for busy humans to believe the entire world should think and feel just like they do. But variety is the spice of life, so they say. As Dr. Allport identified, everyone brings their own unique perspective to every individual situation. What’s most important to remember is there could be a reason you may get frustrated with someone else. They could be high in a dimension you just don’t see.
It’s very easy for us to get stuck inside our own dimensional channels. We have a tendency to assign emotions to other people based on our highs and lows in each dimension.
If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with others wondering why some people are sooooo competitive (Economic), or why they’re soooo bound by the rules and bring them up all the time (Regulatory), or why they always get stuck on semantic word choices (Individualistic), or why they ask so many questions all the time (Theoretical), it could be because their top motivator is a dimension that’s low for you.
Check yourself before your frustration with someone else rises. Is that person helping you see a perspective you’ve previously been blind to?
Values and Motivators IRL
So how does this work in real life? Let’s say you’re a manager creating a new initiative for your team to speed up customer response time. You’re presenting it to your team for the first time and a robust discussion ensues. You went into this meeting thinking you had thought of everything. Based on the questions you’re being asked, can you guess which motivator is most likely driving your reps?
- Rep 1: ‘We’ll have more to do, won’t we? What do we get when response time drops?’
- Rep 2: ‘How are we going to measure response time?’
- Rep 3: ‘Will this be for all clients or just our biggest spenders?’
- Rep 4: ‘Where can we learn how to pare down our conversations?’
- Rep 5: ‘Who is going to be in charge of keeping score?’
- Rep 6: ‘Can I suggest a modification to the reporting system?’
- Rep 7: ‘Is it ok if I make myself available to coach newer team members on how this is going to work?’
How did you do? Were you able to identify those top motivators? Without knowing what was driving them, how frustrating would that conversation have been for you? The variety in our values and motivators allows us access to drivers that might have been hidden to us because they are not a presence in our own personal view.
Knowing their personal motivators can help you present new initiatives more effectively, and it can help you have more robust one on one conversations with your team. You can speak in terms that are pleasing to them and gain mutual respect and buy-in to company initiatives.
We all agree that knowing someone’s behavioral preferences through a DISC assessment can help them perform better on the job, but we hope you now have more of an understanding of how equally important it is knowing their values and motivators. Having everyone on your team, including yourself, take a Values Index assessment can unlock the key to increasing your employee engagement percentage.
By having your team engage in a Values Index assessment, you can match what the role requires to what the worker requires, and what the role provides to what the worker provides. When that’s done, you’ve got a recipe for happy and engaged workers.