our company pushes us to identify our personal values, like family, religion, wealth, and power

A reader writes:

My company has worked with a consultant for the last few years that provides leadership training and professional coaching to “improve corporate culture.” Some interesting things have come out of that, but there is one thing I find bizarre: a values exercise. Essentially, you select your “top five value words” and how you define them. Reading the materials around this exercise, it is all about uncovering your personal values for your own, personal development. There’s a wide range of options you can select. Some are things like “Adventure,” “Friendship,” “Family,” or “Health.” Others are things like “Money,” “Religion,” or “Power,” or “Wealth.”

My company has made this an organization-wide exercise. Last year at an all-company meeting, we all had to go through this exercise to select and define our five value words. At the meeting, we were split into random, interdepartmental groups to discuss our values. I selected five values and defined them for myself at a surface level and in a work context (obviously). However, some people in the group dug in really deep — there was oversharing and crying! There were also quite a few people selecting values that matched our corporate values. At the end of the meeting, it was implied that “some people” didn’t understand this exercise was “not just about work” (*eye-roll*).

At every all-company meeting, we’re asked to share a value and why it is important to us. When we do 1:1s, especially with new employees, we’re also supposed to share our values.

But that’s not even the odd thing — when they hire new people at our company, candidates are required as part of the interview process to select their five values and discuss them with the interviewer. I have not been involved in an interview/hire where this happened, but was helping out on an opening in my department and saw this and was kind of aghast.

If I were looking for a job, I do not even know how I would approach this question. It seems like something that one could fake pretty easily, say to match the company’s values after a quick search of the website. And I’m not sure how the answers to this question are even used in the hiring decision-making process.

I find this a strange practice and wanted your take!

Yeah, it’s problematic.

There’s a place for talking about values in a work context — but it should be talking about the company’s values and how they want those values playing out at work. For example, if the company puts a lot of weight on values like X or Y, it makes sense to talk about what operating in alignment with those values looks like and doesn’t look like, and even talk about them in hiring and performance evaluations.

But probing into individual employees’ and job candidates’ personal values is a whole different thing. In some cases — like with “Adventure,” “Friendship,” or “Wealth” — it’s just overstepping and invasive. With others, like “Religion” or “Health,” they risk getting into really problematic legal territory, since they can’t legally take those things into account when hiring or managing people. And even if they genuinely don’t intend to, the risk that it will unconsciously influence decisions or that people will think think it does is so high that it’s a terrible practice.

There’s been a trend in recent years of employers trying to step into roles traditionally filled by therapists, medical doctors, and personal development in general. They don’t do it well … and even if they did (but they don’t), it’s really, really not their place.

{ 288 comments… read them below }

  1. Lance*

    The only thing I have to say to this for now is, thank goodness they show this during the interview process. Rather to self-select out before you get there than have to suddenly put up with this once you’re already there.

    Whoever thought this was a good idea never gave any thought to the ‘why’.

    1. Melicious*

      I’d nope out of this interview process if I was required to discuss my personal values outside of a work context. I am sure they are losing good candidates by doing this.

    2. quill*

      Always good to know ahead of time which direction the hills you should be fleeing towards are in.

    3. By the Bay*

      This is super close to the worst interview question I ever had. After like 6 hours in a conference room, I got to the CEO portion. The guy gave me five values that were all vague and positive (like “Agile,” “Innovative,” that kind of thing) and made me rank them in order of most to least important for his company. Which was kind of random and impossible because like I said, all just objectively good qualities that any small company should have.

      Then he gave me the same exercise but with different vague/positive qualities (eg. “Creative,” “Detail-oriented”) and asked me to rank those in order of my own best attributes. Also hard! No matter what, you’re putting something important towards the end.

      Afterwards, in a very “gotcha” voice, he revealed that each company word corresponded to one of the employee words, and… the order of my company words did not match the order of my self-descriptive words! HOW did I explain that? How could I possibly be right for the role when I was not aligned with the company BY MY OWN EVALUATION?

      It was nuts. I didn’t get the job and wasn’t too sorry about it.

      1. Make it make sense*

        That’s not even logical, apart from everything else wrong with it! Even if your company values are something like creativity and big picture thinking, you still need at least some of your employees to be detail orientated and great at organising the small but important stuff, or nothing at all will get done.
        You had a lucky escape.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          yeah, the company could be making high fashion clothing, so creative flair would be important, when hiring designers. When hiring someone to deal with the payroll, creative flair might not be quite as important.

    4. Kay*

      Just adding my name to the list of those who say this would be a flag red enough for me to opt out, you are losing good candidates, etc.

      I would also start using a whole list from the “other” category that are entirely work related and put some of those words not suitable for resumes/cover letters to work. Ethical, Team Player, Self Starter, Attention to Detail, you get the idea – rinse and repeat every time this exercise comes up.

      If you have capital to burn, perhaps some comments about how you are concerned about losing talent for your position by turning off candidates with interview questions like that (not to mention the possible foray into legal trouble territory).

  2. calvin blick*

    These are more like priorities than values, but still super invasive. I could see how it could be useful for managers to know, but not so great for employees to share.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there is much OP can do about it, but fortunately it seems pretty easy to fake.

    1. Csw*

      Yeah I can kind of see how values can work when you’re managing an employee or even understanding your coworker – like if they value ‘harmony’ then maybe they’re the kind who likes a cooperative approach to projects more than an ‘individual and pull everything together later’ approach? But really, you should be able to understand a coworker by WORKING together with them and talking them like… a normal person.

      This reads like a more unstructured and wackier version of the MBTI test.

    2. Glitterati*

      Yeah I’d offer up some standard answer aligned with company values, they’d pretend to listen, and that would be ten minutes of our lives we’d never get back.

  3. But why?*

    I’d really love to know what the purpose of these exercises is for the above employer. Are they trying to weed people out/get them to leave?

    Sometimes people’s values lead to mixed results. A person can highly value economic security and that will keep them in their job even if they also highly value adventure and their employer’s PTO policy sucks leaving them little time to live that value. It’s for the individual person to figure out their priorities (which, right along with values, can and do change over time). The employer cannot be all things to all people at all times.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Consultants live and breathe this stuff, and they are very good at convincing corporate leadership that it’ll solve all their problems.

      We’re going through the same thing with our consultant, although to a much less cringey extent.

      1. anonymouse*

        What a glorious way to put new paint on an old building.
        You are not discriminating against a potential hire or current employee because they are a different race, gender, etc. They just don’t share your VALUES.
        You are not biased against someone who does not look or sound like you, they just have “different values.”
        What’s the slogan
        “We are not de-valuing what you represent! We are de-valuing you.”
        oh wait.

    2. Kwebbel*

      Yeah, I wonder how long it’ll take recruiters/hiring managers to realize that candidates only ever list personal values that match the company ones.

      And on another note, what if a candidate’s personal values are the opposite of the company’s?

      1. quill*

        Kind of hard to imagine a functioning human that does not have some opposite values to the company.

        “You said you valued hard work in the interview! Why are you going on vacation?”

        1. Antilles*

          Or perhaps that you have similar values but your definitions of the word are different.
          In your example, it’s entirely possible that the employee says “I value hard work, that’s why I go all-out for 40 hours a week”…while the company’s says “we value hard workers, that’s why we want people here 60+ hours”.

    3. Lab Boss*

      I have to assume that the intentions aren’t that deep. Some exec got suckered in by some smooth sales pitch about how you can get your employees to bring their whole selves to work and that will make your workplace have good synergy, or some crap like that.

        1. Lab Boss*

          I don’t know but I hear it all the time. I have many elements of my whole self that my boss, peers, and team have no need or desire to know, and I assume they all feel the same way. And we LIKE each other! We’re a casual and friendly group that talks about non-work stuff all the time- I know their hobbies, what their weddings were like, the general state of their families- but not their WHOLE self.

          1. londonedit*

            Absolutely. You can be collaborative and friendly and even be friends with your colleagues, but none of them needs to see your ‘whole self’. I bring my professional self to work because that’s the version of me that gets the work done and collaborates well with my colleagues. In my team we know each other’s working styles, we know how to get the best out of each other, and we chat about loads of non-work things like our weekends and the top-level things in our lives. We celebrate and commiserate with each other, we know about each other’s hobbies and holidays and general stuff about families. But we do not bring our ‘whole selves’ to work and nor do we need to.

            1. Mid*

              Honestly, I’ve always found the “bring your whole self to work” idea deeply ableist, aside from all the other problems with it.

              My whole self is mentally ill. I bring my work self to work, because you don’t want the rest of my self, the part that spends hours crying sometimes, the part that has to fight to bathe, the part that lets my home devolve into a near health hazard because I can’t get the energy to clean. (Don’t worry, I’m okay and have a good support system and have my home life managed now and am much healthier.) That’s why I have a work-self though. I don’t want to bring my whole self to work, because work is sometimes an escape from other things. It has structure and goals. It also doesn’t feed my whole self, because I’m much more creative and fun than my corporate law job allows for me. That’s okay–I fulfill my other needs outside of work. Which is healthy and normal. I don’t live to work, and the idea of bringing your whole self to work is just trying to make people live to work.

              1. londonedit*

                And I think it’s perfectly normal and usual to have different ‘selves’ in different areas of your life. The way I am at work is different from the way I am around my very close family, which is different from the way I am around my friends, which is different from the way I am around my extended family. Everyone would behave differently based on whether they were at a football match or a formal party, and it’s the same thing. Everyone edits the side of themselves that they show in any given situation, and that’s completely normal. There’s nothing dishonest about it, it’s how human beings operate.

                1. UKDancer*

                  I am definitely different at work than I am at home. Both are equally me. I think the way bringing your whole self works positively is when it’s about people not having to hide some things, so Joe doesn’t have to pretend to be straight and Priti can ask for time off for Diwali and if we’re lucky will bring us sweet things in after. So you share a bit of yourselves. It doesn’t mean oversharing or making people uncomfortable.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Yeah, on rare occasions when I have to take a client’s call while I’m chilling with my family, they are often rather stunned to hear me speaking firmly with my clients. No, I’m not committing to the job until I’ve seen exactly what it’ll entail. Yes I heard when they said it was my kind of job, but no I can’t trust them to know exactly whether it’s my kind of job. I’ll be pleasant and chatty but I’m not letting them bully me into doing something I won’t be able to do full justice to. I have a reputation to protect, I don’t want to take on a job that I’ll end up making a mess of. Rebel at Work is completely different from Rebel chilling with family or friends, and that’s normal. I tried being chill at work and got walked all over, so I had to develop a harder shell.

              2. Lizcase*

                As someone with chronic physical and mental illnesses, I’ve always been uncomfortable with the “whole self” thing, but hadn’t though of it as ableist. You’re right. It is so ableist!

              3. Anonymouse*

                Ableist is eye opening for me. I see it as run of the mill jackassery like “we are all family here.”
                Really? My parents paid for college.
                Oh, that’s not what you meant?
                Hell, even,”my family gives presents at Xmas.
                Oh. You’re not Christian? Well, it’s a holiday gift then.”

                But this whole self to work nonsense?

                My mom worked at a place that didn’t know she had more than two kids for the better part of a decade.
                Nobody knew that she couldn’t/wouldn’t drive a car.

                They got her workself.

                1. Despachito*

                  I love that part about paying for college.

                  What about letting me crash in your couch/borrow your car/watch my kids for free/invite me for dinner on Sundays/buying me a car, because that’s what parents and relatives do, right?

                  Or not so right?

              4. CPegasus*

                Meanwhile… I started to freelance because I felt stifled and miserable when I couldn’t bring my mental illness to work. I was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and I’m fairly sure that the only times I’ve ever been disciplined at work were times when stress got to me and I had what I now recognize as meltdowns. If I could “bring my whole self” and just quietly huff at my desk and maybe cry a little (oh for an office with a door) it would have been over in 10 minutes, but having to hide it in fear of being disciplined for becoming a disruption made the whole thing so much worse, and led to hiding in the bathroom for 30+ minutes trying and failing to calm down.

                I haven’t seen how it actually works in practice because I moved my workplace to my house and set up a situation where I can only be judged on my work output, and no one has to know how many times I stop for a break or if I need to be working while I’m visibly or audibly pissed off or stressed. The clients just get the end result. But in principle the idea of being able to just say “I have this condition, ignore it and it’ll go away quickly” would be so freeing. I see why it appeals to people

                1. JM60*

                  Ideally, people should feel like they CAN being their whole selves to work if they want to (aside from any NSFW part of themselves), but no one should be pressured/mandated to bring their whole selves to work.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  yeah but then you’d be writing in to Alison saying “so I took my whole self to work and had a good cry over a blip in communication with the manager, but now the manager won’t give me any interesting projects to work on”.

            2. ursula*

              Yeah the “whole self” idea is extra LOL for anyone with mental illness who has to put an incredible amount of effort into seeming like a basically functioning human being at work. Like, if you would like to see my anxiety and ADHD be more present, please believe that I can make that happen! My whole self leaves dishes in the sink for a week, needs a nap every day at 3pm, and generally lives like a raccoon in people clothes.
              The office absolutely does not want my whole self.

              1. Minimal Pear*

                Physical illnesses/disabilities too! If you really want my whole self at work, brace for me to be taking meetings lying on the couch in my underwear.

              2. JSPA*

                I have a hard time thinking of it as accidental. It seems like (yet another) form of systemic discrimination.

              3. Danish*

                Right, you can either have my whole self OR you can make me wear non-pajama pants. Not both. My whole self wears pajama pants.

              4. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

                “lives like a raccoon in people clothes”

                Hi, are you me? This is totally a thing in my world. Thanks for naming it.

          2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Nod. I’m very weird and abrasive. I tone that down for work because that’s annoying.

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          Our system is so hierarchical that execs hear “your employees should be able to bring their whole selves to work” (because, inclusion) and think it means “I must require my employees to bring their whole selves to work.”

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            This. It is much like the manager who hears that successful teams often socialize together outside of work, and therefore mandates team happy hours thinking that this will make it successful. This manager has gotten the direction of causation backwards.

            1. Canterlot*

              Both of these comments! I can think of so many examples. So many versions of, basically, “Studies show happy people smile more, so we have a new ‘smile more at work or else’ initiative to make our employees be happy.”

              1. Emmy Noether*

                Weirdly, there are studies* that have shown that there’s some kind of feedback loop in the brain where smiling can actually make one happier. I’m guessing that effect would be completely overridden by the “or else” part of the initiative though, hah.

                * I’m not vouching for the accuracy of those studies, as it’s just a random thing I read somewhere and I don’t have a source.

            2. Danish*

              We definitely had mandated happy hours. Our manager put it on our team goals sheet that we had to attend the weekly building happy hours so that we would “appear to be approachable”.

              The problem was that we were all so overworked that being forced to take an hour break at four (and therefore stay until like 8pm) was just one more chore. i don’t imagine any of us looked very approachable, trudging begrudgingly into happy hour and then leaving as soon as we possibly could.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                I absolutely adore “appear to be approachable” as an explicitly stated goal. Does setting up your laptop in a booth and getting some work done count?

                1. Danish*

                  Clearly not! I also really appreciated that there were no goals around whether we actually WERE approachable, just that we might appear so.

          2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            I think this is part of it, but also some one hears a complaint that “who I was wasn’t appreciated” or “I had to hide who I was” or “They didn’t understand me!” and assumes that clearly, the solution is to force everyone to bring all of themselves to work, because then those complaints won’t be valid.

        3. sb51*

          The phrase “bring your whole self to work” gets used in two different and kind of incompatible ways, FYI, so before wailing about it you might want to make sure which one it is.
          1. People wanting to overshare in the way we’re talking about here.
          2. People in some marginalized group feeling like they currently can’t even acknowledge that they undergo stuff that other people don’t, and wanting to be able to talk about how that impacts their workplace experience. When they say they’d like to “bring their whole self to work” they might just mean “be able to put a photo of my spouse on my desk like everyone else and not face discrimination or weirdness because their spouse is of the same gender”. Or: “company dress code does not limit hairstyles to those favored by white people”. Or a little stronger: “the companies decision to hold this annual event at a venue that has a history of discrimination (a former plantation, an out-of-state venue in a state with anti-trans laws) is having a different impact on some employees”. Reasonable amounts of sharing and human interaction that go on in a workplace that should be equally accessible to everyone but currently aren’t.

          1. anne of mean gables*

            Thank you, this is SO succinct and clearly stated. I am on my office’s DEI committee but also have argued vehemently against activities and polices that mandate or imply that you must bring your “whole self” into the workplace (this does not feel contradictory to me, but apparently does to some people). I work in a mental-health adjacent field, and I feel so strongly that people should be able to come in, do their job, and go home without feeling pressured to share their personal experiences or emotional landscape.

            1. Plain Jane*

              Thank you so much for this. I am currently struggling with some of my employer’s DEI work and the expectation that we can all basically engage in company-mandated group therapy without there being any repercussions. It’s been very disappointing to say the least.

          2. Critical Rolls*

            Thank you, this is really well-put. Mandatory whole-self-bringing is A) applying a good idea completely wrong, B) overreach, C) a demonstration of how a good idea can be made harmful for the people it was supposed to support.

            Don’t make personal ish mandatory. Have a company culture where people are comfortable having their demographics in the open.

          3. ecnaseener*

            Just Your Everyday Crone summed it up nicely just above — people should be able to bring their whole selves to work to whatever extent they want, that doesn’t mean they should be mandated to.

            1. Despachito*

              I’d be careful with the “whatever extent they want” – there are parts of our whole selves others definitely do not want to see, hear or smell.

              But otherwise, you are right – people should feel safe to reveal some aspects of their lives that are not conventional and not be afraid of it being used against them. Stupid pseudopsychological games do not belong in this category.

          4. Despachito*

            This is very well put, and it crossed my mind as well – that originally, the “whole self” thing was probably meant as your No 2″ – no one should be afraid to reveal a substantial part of their life at work for fear of repercussions or dismissal” , and that was good.

            But alas, any good idea can be horribly disfigured by morons, and then we end with what OP is describint.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          The best-case-scenario of the “whole self” thing is roughly “you do not need to closet yourself at work” not just about orientation but any particular facet of your being. It’s not “you must share every aspect” but rather “you can do so if you want to, without fear of retaliation”.
          In practice, it’s almost never applied that way, and turns into some oversharing-required clusterfuck.

      1. But why?*

        I don’t get paid enough to bring my whole self to work. If they want that, they’re going to have to give me a lllllllot more money and PTO as well as an employment contract.

      2. InsufficientlySubordinate*

        My whole self drops f-bombs like they’re hot, prefers to read all day, and is sarcastic/impatient. None of that needs to come to work.

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          But dang I wish it could! lol I’ve been on medical leave for six weeks and and starting back to work soon, I’ve been conscious about my language (pretty unsuccessfully) and slowly reducing my reading time in preparation. Not excited. lol

      3. Queen of the Darned*

        Exactly. My previous employer, a Canadian Federal police force you may have heard of, seemed to fall prey to every trendy know-thyself-and-improve thing. I strongly suspect that someone in the upper ranks seized on this stuff so that they could put look-what-I-organized on their latest assessment. Goodness only knows what it cost, never mind dragging all those cops away from their duties for a week at a time. I remember particularly The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and it’s follow-up book and the Myers-Briggs silliness, which told me what I knew already: I’m a logical introvert that sometimes overthinks stuff. No doubt something else has become briefly popular since I retired.

      4. Canadian Librarian #72*

        Oh, I HATE the “whole self” thing! And often, organizations that think of themselves as promoting diversity and being accommodating will tout this supposed value, but as a person belonging to an ethnic minority group and who has a mental illness, the way I’ve seen this “bring your whole self” thing manifest is: the expectation that I’ll divulge personal mental or physical health info to my supervisors or colleagues and hope it isn’t used against me in future; the expectation that I’ll “perform” my culture for colleagues so the workplace feels more diverse (but I’m still expected to behave in ways that accord with the dominant culture, and participate in religious stuff like Christmas parties to be a “team player”); that I’ll be open about my sexual orientation at work when I don’t think it’s anyone’s business (I’m not secretive about it, but why does anyone actually need to know??).

        Just… not a fan.

      5. SongbirdT*

        Lots of disdain for the idea bringing ones whole self to work and defining values, and I agree that the execution that the LW describes is not great.

        But my company uses both of these things in a really positive way, in my view.

        When we talk about bringing your whole self, the intent is that we don’t want people to feel the need to be closeted at work about any part of their identity or personal make up. We want people to feel at liberty to say when they’re having a hard time and have the freedom to step away from work for a bit if they need to.

        When we talk about values, we are asked to define what’s really important to us *for ourselves* – which is an important distinction, it’s not shared – and we’re encouraged to not lose sight of what’s important to us in the pursuit of business.

        So, I don’t think it’s an absolutely bad thing, it just needs to be thoughtfully executed. Which seems like the opposite for the LW.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          I’m sorry, but that would be torture for me. Some people don’t like to share parts of their life, and have spent their whole life building a facade that makes their work-self quite happy.

        2. Canadian Librarian #72*

          It’s nice that you want people to feel free to be “closeted” about any part of their identity or lives – that’s great! But you could easily create a culture where people feel implicitly pushed to share more about their personal life, their lives outside of work, than they want to or otherwise would. Are people in your company free to not share, or does it come off as “weird” or like they’re cold or standoffish, if they say thanks, but no thanks to sharing personal things about themselves, even if they’re free to do so?

          1. Canadian Librarian #72*

            It’s nice that you want people to feel free to be “closeted”

            Sorry about that, it should have said “feel free not to be closeted”… Forgot a word there.

      6. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Besides, this makes it easy to reject the people you don’t want anyway.

        Colbert Quiz: “Guess a number”.

        And it’s always wrong.

        But that was comedy. This is real life.

    4. Meow*

      We are doing a similar but more extensive program at work, and management was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that people responded fearing restructuring and layoffs. They paused the program, launched an investigation to find the source of the “toxicity” that was causing this reaction, and even though they received a lot of honest feedback, they seem to have gone with “we investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong”.

      Anyway they started that program back up, while repeatedly encouraging us that the results will not be used for restructuring and layoffs, but for some reason, people are still nervous about restructuring and layoffs…

    5. Tired Social Worker*

      It’s from a therapeutic technique called Motivational Interviewing and they are bastardizing the therapeutic intent with how they are using it.

      1. Coenobita*

        Haha, maybe someone heard “motivational interviewing” and thought it was about job interviews *cringe*

        I’ve done values exercises with my therapist and found them to be super useful and illuminating. I would NOT want to do them with my coworkers!

    6. Lacey*

      They think it will help them manage people better and that it will help employees enjoy their jobs more.

      A former employer often would say something about how we spend most of our week at work, so work should be something we enjoy.

      Which sounds good. I should have a pleasant work environment. But it often played out in this kind of nonsense. Where they wanted to be too invested in their employees lives and have their employees lives way too entangled with work.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I get that it’s nice for your manager to know your priorities for what you want to get out of work (independence, growth, support, whatever) but when it gets into the personal stuff…..yeesh, how do people think this is a good idea?

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I want to know what my staff want from work and any issues in the workplace so we can work together and I can support them and get the best from them. It doesn’t mean I want the deepest secrets of their hearts or large amounts of personal discussion.

    7. Student*

      It’s a mathematical get-out-of-jail-free card to cover discrimination in the hiring process. This is the “dress code” of the new millennium.

      It gives you a perfectly plausible, legal (in the US) reason to reject anyone at all – just cite “values misalignment”, even if you’re actually making your hiring decision based on a legally protected trait.

      If the individual chooses 5 values out of a pool of many, the odds of them picking exactly all five of the “company” values are low and the odds of them choosing identical values to any other applicant are also pretty low. I’ve seen similar systems where there were 50 or more “values” to choose from, so I’m guessing this system has a similar number to pick from. That gives you a bit over 2 million possible combinations. There’s probably a multiple-choice test involved that makes it hard or impossible to just “pick” the values that the company has, even if the applicant knows the company values from their public website ahead of time. So, it’s mathematically very improbable that a group of people with a protected trait will be able to get together to legally prove that the company is discriminating against a common trait associated with their protected status. Even if it’s something like “family” or “religion”, the company can pivot to the other 4 traits on your list and claim it’s about those.

      You don’t even have to talk about the test results in detail, or make sure the hiring manager actually based the decision off the values stuff. You just need to pull out the results of the values test when you need to justify the decision to somebody. As long as you don’t have a paper trail to prove otherwise, you’ve got the paper trail on “values” to fall back on.

      Bonus, it’s easily extensible to protect non-hiring decisions that may discriminate, like raises and promotions.

      I know the managers I’ve had in companies that use tests like this like using it to find people “like them”, or to justify employee favoritism that they’re already engaged in, or to justify not working with employees who are too “different” from them.

      1. Despachito*

        It would be interesting to do a test among a group of people and see whether the 5 selected values rather coincide or differ.

        I doubt that people would be honest in naming them (I definitely wouldn’t because 1) it is none of the employer’s business and I am not a fool to shoot myself in the foot, and 2) I have never felt the need to think about my values theoretically or even name them.)

        However, if I was desperate enough to get work to undergo this test, I’d pick something as: honesty, precision, efficiency, good relations with coworkers, constant improvement. I wonder how these could be used against me as not matching company values.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        I would disagree with this, though. If the company rejects someone whose religious values don’t align (for example, non Christian), and that’s the one thing that doesn’t align, they might find themselves facing a discrimination lawsuit. Or health for example. Someone with health issues may say they value health because they don’t have it. But if that’s the only thing that’s off and they don’t get hired? Definitely questionable.

    8. laser99*

      I would guess they want ammunition against their employees. I wish I wasn’t a cynic, but…

    9. Lora*

      The whole Values thing comes from a book beloved of many business schools: Posner & Kouzes, The Leadership Challenge. The book itself is… I’m glad I got a free copy and didn’t pay good money for it. The reason two of my professors loved it very much was because, so they said, “It’s based on data!” I asked where precisely the data and materials and methods sections were, is there a supplemental text? No answer.

      Hypothetically, the way it’s supposed to work is this: a company has Values, which describe clearly what the purpose of the company is and why they do that thing. For example, if you are a Widget Factory, you might have Values such as Making the highest quality widgets for the discerning Widget-Buyer. That way, if you have two employees who are both working to cut costs, the contribution of a faster production line that maintains quality is a more valuable contribution that swapping out lower-quality raw materials even if they both hypothetically have the same financial benefit. The one is aligned with the corporate Value, the other one isn’t, this is therefore an easy decision. And if you wanted to include this type of information in an interview, you might have a company whose values are Low Low Prices, War Crimes and Puppy Kicking, and you’d want to be up front about that so that interviewees who are Anti-Puppy Kicking can self-select out of the process, right? Ideally, it would be an exercise to clarify the purpose of a company, how it should do business, and help people understand the way they fit into / contribute to the company mission, specifically.

      Where it goes sideways is, rarely is anyone very honest about their Values. Company values are mostly Money, Money, oh yeah probably safety and making actual products or something. And the interpretation of what your values should be, other than an exercise in marketing and self-congratulation, can be…overly creative and florid to the point of downright romantic. The people who come up with such things want to put it on a motivational poster, and “dumping all our revenue into shareholder equity” is not a very nice thing to say to employees who don’t get profit-sharing.

      1. TrixM*

        Thank you, I laughed out loud.
        I have been in a hiring position, and if I were forced to ask such questions due to company policy (while working on my exit plan), I would use them to assess the applicant. Yes, whether they would pick up my slight cues re how I felt about the question, the level of eyerolling they would suppress, and being able to think on their feet to come up with some plausible BS.
        Someone who went the opposite route with genuine confusion re the purpose of the questions would also score positively. Coming across as overly cynical, however, would not, because you need to know how to cover your butt in those situations.

  4. Antilles*

    I selected five values and defined them for myself at a surface level and in a work context (obviously).
    This is exactly what I’d do. Go down the list, find the five most generically corporate work-related values possible and go with them – Safety, Quality, Excellence, etc.

    1. JSPA*

      Boundaries, perspective, professionalism, respect, integrity? (Though if they were able to buy a clue about how this violates all of those, they’d have clued in long ago.)

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        And let’s add efficiency…how much meeting time is spend oversharing, weeping, and discussing values instead of actually getting something decided?

    2. OP Here*

      Op here! Yep – I just looked up my answers, and I said things like Order, Stability, Competence, and (most importantly) Privacy!

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        discretion, professionalism, and “appropriate boundaries” also come to mind!

  5. HoHumDrum*

    The troll in me says you should just pick “privacy” as your value and then refuse to elaborate further.

    1. MEH Squared*

      This was my immediate reaction as well. Moxie’s Mommy’s additions are great, too.

    2. English Rose*

      Yes this! We have regular sessions with a consultant (of course) who goes round asking each person in the group what’s important to them in life so we can all share (ugh). Most folks talk about their families and other acceptable stuff, but I LONG to say coldly and without a hint of a smile “I’m obsessive about my privacy.”

      1. Aww, coffee, no*

        I don’t know about saying it coldly, but I could absolutely see myself saying this earnestly, because… I am.
        I don’t do social media outside of a basic LinkedIn, I cover my computer cameras, the rare occasions I’ve needed to give out my personal phone number to a manager it’s been with a note that this is my personal number and not to share with colleagues without my permission.
        I would very happily use Privacy and repeat it lots.

        1. English Rose*

          Yes me too with the camera covers. And Sudo by Anonyme Labs provides great free VOIP numbers you can give your manager instead of your personal one.

        2. OP Here*

          OP here! And 100% same here – which is probably why I was so irked by this exercise when (I guess) other people were cool w/it?.

          1. Mockingjay*

            ExToxicJob was big on “Team Building” and “Feelings.” Like yours, at the first event one person cried. I called out sick for the next.

            My supervisor and a few others thought these events were terrific. (Oddly, “Sharing is Caring” solved NOTHING.) Supervisor also floated the idea of using a Myers-Briggs survey to improve “communications” because we would better understand each other. She had no training on this subject whatsoever beyond a google search. (My body language and stare were enough for her to drop that idea.)

            Boundaries would be my word. Fences make good coworkers.

        3. allathian*

          Ha, I don’t even do LinkedIn. I occasionally get the feeling that maybe I should, but so far I haven’t bothered. The only social media I do is WhatsApp, and that only with people who are already in my contact list. I do have a Twitter account that I use for following a few posters, but I never post anything myself and I don’t even have anything in my profile.

          I have a big screen and keep my laptop cover down except when I’m actually using the camera.

      2. JustaTech*

        I have a coworker I’ve worked with for years and the two non-work-related things I know about him are 1) he has dogs that he’s very into and 2) he’s very, very, very serious about privacy. This came up when our HR had to ask everyone to bring in their passports to copy again and Coworker pointed out that these would be saved in the copier and how was HR going to protect our privacy?

        The HR rep just kind of gawped at him (knowing nothing about the copier) and I suggested he go scan a lot of documents to clear out the copier’s memory cache.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      The troll in me would ask for definitions of each and every word, following long discussions clarifying these definitions. The goal is to run out the clock, or at least persuade the perpetrator to move on to another victim.

    4. OP Here*

      OP here! I ABSOLUTELY did pick Privacy as my #1 value. I just looked up my responses and the explanation I had was “this exercise” and “I love WFH in the pandemic”.

    5. never mind who I am*

      And if someone asks you to say more about that, say “Privacy. Now bugger off.” All right, that’s only four words.

  6. Amber Rose*

    I’m always amazed by the people who go all-in with the personal stuff. We briefly tried to do a thing where every time we had a meeting with more than three people, we first had to discuss an example of someone portraying one of our four company values and we couldn’t even get that to stick. It was so uncomfortable and awkward.

    Every time I read or hear something like this I start humming Weird Al’s Mission Statement. So many words and no actual meaning.

    1. Banana*

      I had an encounter with unexpected questions about personal experiences with intolerance in a DEI meeting last year. My employer is very non-diverse (working on it) and I think the meeting organizers were expecting most of the answers to be secondhand experiences or things we’d observed of strangers. I really don’t know what they were thinking.

      My actual experience is deeply personal and something I get emotional talking about. Worse, I started trying to mentally frame up sharing that experience in a work discussion, in preparation for my turn to talk, and was unable to mentally stay factual and objective, and wound up privately getting so upset that I was also unable to fabricate anything else bland and generic and would up faking technical issues and dropping off the call.

      We were supposed to share with people we didn’t frequently work with, so we were being broken out into small randomized discussion groups in Zoom. I didn’t want my first discussion with people I didn’t know to be a teary mess at work. Again, I don’t know what they were thinking.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Me too, it’s like people forget that just because someone asks doesn’t mean you have to answer. I keep all answers superficial. I had to go through one of these exercises and one of the questions was your biggest regret. I think my answer was something like “Eh, I don’t regret things as a rule. Good, bad, or ugly things that happen have made me who I am” Other people chose to answer very personally (I found that a little weird, but that was their choice). Same for the health and religion questions… Keep it surface level and be done with it.

      I guess this is one of those decision points for the candidates and employees of this company. Is this something I can live with? For some it’s going to be a yes.. for others a no. This is the culture and activity that the company supports and encourages and they will either drive away otherwise good employees/candidates and the same for employees on the flipside they will encourage the same that welcome this type of shared culture.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      My worst boss hijacked the mic at an event that was discussing the impact historical trauma has had on communities. It was being passed and each person was supposed to say something about how historical trauma impacted them on an individual, family, or community level. Most white/cis/hetronormative/neutotypical people had the good sense to talk about community or family (if in multiracial family) impact. Not my boss. She got the mic and went on about how oppressed she has been because she’s white and [2 hr story about her family and personal issues]. The mic got cut but she still kept talking. It was something else

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      “we first had to discuss an example of someone portraying one of our four company values”

      Do I get to pick who I discuss? Give me a chance to prep and I can do a really deep dive into obscure corners of history. If I don’t have time to prep I would just fall back on my guiding principle that everything relates to early baseball history, and go with some guy who played in the 1880s.

      1. Beth*

        Now I have the urge to attribute my core personal values to the Great Vowel Shift, because why not.

    5. quill*

      I’m always morbidly amused by every time a school or workplace wants you to “share your personal challenges.”

      Nobody wants to do that within a structure that can fire you if they decide your challenges must be taking up too much of your time!

    6. starfox*

      Okay so I love all this personal, “inner work” stuff… I would happily attend a weekend retreat or meet with a coach that did this kind of thing.

      But not at work! Not with people I see and have to work with every day. That’s way too personal and intimate. I’m friendly with my coworkers but not “oversharing and crying” kind of friendly!

      There’s a reason people pay therapists and coaches for this kind of thing. It’s not a good idea to show our mushy insides to people we work with….

      1. OP Here*

        OP here! Truly I am the same – I think I am fairly in tune w/myself and enjoy doing these kinds of activities on my own or with my therapist. But definitely not at work!!

        One thing that kind of took me aback when we did this exercise is how many people don’t do this kind of work at all on their own. Maybe that’s why it was so engaging for some people? Still inappropriate at work, but interesting to me!

    7. JustaTech*

      Oh goodness, other companies do the ” example of someone portraying one of our four company values” too?

      In theory we’re trying to implement that at my work, in response to a seminar we did about Grit where the #1 response to the question of “how can we do our work better” was “we need more people!”. But we can’t have more people, and the senior leadership told me to my face that they would not praise anyone (WTAF), so instead we all have to “dig deep” and also talk about our company values. Gah!

  7. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

    Privacy is a value. So is liberty, and good boundary keeping, and the absence of nosiness.

    1. Moonlight*

      This! Because there’s nothing inherently wrong with being guided by our values but that’s something you should develop in private sort the support of trusted friends, family, even mentors, or a therapist. It’s not something that should be trotted out and show cased.

      I could totally picture being like “privacy, boundaries, respect, collaboration, autonomy” – the last 2 emphasise working with others but still having the autonomy to decide I don’t have to do shit divulge my own private guiding principles if I do not bloody well want to.

  8. Kwebbel*

    Eugh. Hard pass. I adore my 5 direct teammates and have great relationships with all of them, but at the office is neither the time or place for these discussions. If I want to have conversations about my colleagues’ personal values (and sure, I have with some of them), I do that at the bar, 2 blocks away from the office, after work, where they only show up if they truly want to be there and can leave whenever they like.

  9. Lab Boss*

    I can’t imagine how awkward it would be to sit in a meeting with people digging so deep into their personal values they were in tears. I’m a huge cynic about these types of corporate touchy-feely things and all I can think about is a quote from The Simpsons about values: “Family, religion, friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.”

    1. Amber Rose*

      My husband had one company workshop where they had to listen to raisins and then explain how their raisin was feeling.

      I didn’t stop laughing at him for a very long time, and I’m so grateful that the worst I’ve had to put up with is company values (like accountability and customer satisfaction, really normal ones) and the words “future state” which admittedly make me flinch these days.

      1. Lab Boss*

        We had a manager come into a former workplace and try to inspire a bunch of teenage boys with a story about how some deli lost a customer because they stopped giving out free pickles, and good customer service says you should just give them the pickle. He’d always ask things like “have you found a way to give someone the pickle today?” and “OK, the weather is going to be terrible this week so find a way to give them the pickle so they stay happy.” It still stands in my mind as the single most absurd motivator I’ve ever heard of.

              1. Lab Boss*

                You’d think that, but he was absolutely in deadly earnest about the whole thing. He was studying some kind of management psychology-type degree and was full of dumb motivational phrases, that was just the only one that sounded naughty. When he caught on we’d made it a joke he threw a tantrum about it and nearly quit.

                1. quill*

                  If I was wondering who the most immature person in that room was, I’m not anymore. It’s him.

        1. All The Words*

          I know this story! It’s featured in a motivational film my employer presented to us a couple times. Yes, there is an anthropomorphized pickle mascot. It sounds ridiculous in writing, but in essence the message was that in business, when you have the option whether to be a little extra nice or be a stickler for rules “Company policy is ONE pickle spear per customer!”, just be nice. It pays off in the long run. I believe the speaker was the former owner of Bridgeman’s Ice Cream parlors. It was actually a pretty entertaining film.

          I also liked the point he made about tethered pens at businesses. “You’re telling all your customers you think they’re thieves. Just print your logo on the pens and hand them out instead.”

          Anyway, I’m socially inept enough to be overly honest and say the values question was too personal and made me uncomfortable.

          1. Lab Boss*

            I don’t doubt that’s the original source! When he told it to us the setup was a deli that used to give a free pickle with sandwiches, then stopped doing that, but kept doing it for one long-time customer. Then a new waitress was hired who didn’t know he was an exception to the rule, didn’t give him a free pickle, and he never came back.

            That version always rubbed me the wrong way because it’s basically saying “low level employees should follow the rules unless it’s the right time to break them. You will not be trained on what the right time is.” Of course I also have a very linear rule-follower brain, and worked in a part of the org where rule-bending was absolutely forbidden for safety reasons.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, that story sounds more like the moral should be “have good communication in your business” rather than “magically know whether a customer is a genuine exception or is trying it on when you are likely to be the one blamed if you make an exception and you’re not allowed to.”

              1. Lab Boss*

                Because if 8 years of dealing with the public taught me anything, it’s that every rule will have at least one person who absolutely genuinely believes they are an exception, and will be furious that you say they aren’t.

      2. londonedit*

        I’ve seen the raisin one done as an introduction to mindfulness or as an exercise in getting people to stop and notice the little things around them – first you’re meant to feel the raisin in your hand, then smell the raisin, then put it in your mouth without chewing it, then finally chew and taste the raisin (only works if people like raisins). The idea is that everyone’s rushing around all the time and not stopping to smell the roses (or raisins) and the exercise forces you to spend time appreciating something as small as a raisin. But I’ve never heard of *listening* to a raisin.

        1. Despachito*

          I actually did hear of the listening, and it was part of the same mindfulness exercise you are describing, this time as part of a Weightwatchers-like programme. We were required to squeeze the raisin near our ear and hear it crackle. But as far as I remember, it did not say anything of interest.

      3. Gracely*

        What the…unless they were listening to the California raisins telling them something they heard through the grapevine…

        Just wtf.

      4. AMK*

        Please, I have to know, what did people say the raisin said? I would have had a hard time not announcing that my raisin was the strong and silent type!

        1. Amber Rose*

          I’m not sure! My husband said his was doing fine, lol. So awkward.

          I don’t think I could have resisted saying I could hear tiny screams of terror.

          1. Jack Bruce*

            I think they’d all be saying “so… thirsty… need… water… dehydrated…”

          2. quill*

            My new personal value is that I am against the anthropomorphization of food. No more screaming raisins… no more cannibal cinnamon toast crunch… forget about the M&M’s…

        2. ThatGirl*

          I love the movie Benny + Joon, and there’s a line in there about how raisins are really just humiliated grapes, so I would have needed to riff on that for awhile.

        3. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          And, is the raisin anything like Joe Lycett’s walrus? Cause that wouldn’t be pretty.

      5. English Rose*

        Oh heavens, @Allison PLEASE can you do a special on people’s most absurd team-building exercise stories!!!

      6. Deborah*

        The raisin thing is SPECIFICALLY part of a mindfulness training technique. It’s been discussed here on AAM before. I had to do it once and found it just as annoying as everyone else.

      7. Richard Hershberger*

        “I don’t understand the question. Feelings require a well developed nervous system that raisins lack.” Going literal is one strategy for avoiding this sort of nonsense. To pull it off, you have to be able to maintain an utter deadpan affect.

      8. StellaBella*

        We had to do that b.s. too in an old job. ugh. so glad where I am now is not like that.

        1. Mockingjay*

          “My raisin is wondering why it keeps getting blended with bran, when either one alone is sufficient for human digestive needs.”

    2. miss chevious*

      Oh, it’s INCREDIBLY awkward. When we did something similar at my office, we had people sharing very personal things and now I am in the position of knowing things about other employees that I have no business knowing and do not understand what to do with in a work context. I just need to email Person A about a project, for example, and every time I see his email address now, I think about his marital problems and his past substance abuse. So…that’s fun and appropriate.

  10. Sandmartin*

    I find it so baffling that companies continue to do this! Surely they must realise that people who are private (or canny) will be carefully bland and/or will treat it as an opportunity to re-iterate to senior management what they believe they want to hear? The desire to ask people to bring ‘their whole self’ to work – to be confessional in a space which could also, in many states at any moment, fire you – seems somewhere between foolish at the best and manipulative and damaging at worst. The late great David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs is really brilliant on this: the psychological violence being done by the insistence that people treat work as the place they bring their most meaningful selves, despite work being a necessarily capitalist enterprise that responds to the pressures of profit and the marketplace above all

    1. Melicious*

      A company doesn’t want my whole self at work. They want the best of my work, focus, and organization and enough of my personal self to have a genuine rapport with the people I work with. They don’t want the part of me that hasn’t done the dishes in 4 days, dirty jokes, and parenting frustrations.
      NO. Focus on having me bring to work what helps the company and the team!

      1. mreasy*

        This is what I always think when people talk about bringing your whole self. I’ll be the first person to tell you that you do NOT want that! You want the parts I choose to bring to the office because they are professional, well-behaved, and reasonable!!!

  11. NYC Taxi*

    We went through a similar training earlier this year. I’m more than happy to talk about my goals as related to my job, but close down anything related to my personal life. So any time I have to participate in bs like this I have two go-to bland, generic personal goals–making time for friends and taking up gardening (I live in an apt, but no one has ever questioned this).

    The thing is once we do this exercises nothing ever comes of them. There’s no follow up, no mention ever again. Totally pointless. The only person who wins is the outside consultant who makes bank running these time-wasting training sessions.

    1. NeedRain47*

      YES to the part about no follow up. At previous job everyone was encouraged to do the Clifton Strengths Finder, It was actually pretty interesting IMO, but also entirely pointless, b/c no one was going to alter peoples’ job duties to better match their area of strength.

      1. Student*

        Ahh, Clifton Strengths Finder, the corporate version of horoscopes! Might as well be looking at star charts and talking about where Venus was last seen at work. Oooh, you’re influencing/relationship building/saggitarius? We can’t work together, I’m analytic and a taurus.

        Tarot cards at least have fun illustrations on them, just saying. The little vignettes in the booklet that goes with Clifton are just so weird by comparison. I have to guess no one’s meant to read most of them.

        1. Me!*

          We had to do the DISC assessment at Exjob. Ostensibly it was to promote better communication, but all of those things are horoscope-ish. In fact, the trainer began the session by flatly telling us NOT to take any of it to heart, that it was very general, and even recounting a story about how one person took it twice and their result changed drastically between the first and second assessments due to life circumstances.

        2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          My understanding of Clifton strengths (and the way I’ve seen it used) was that it worked best as a tool for management to understand how their employees are likely to approach an issue, and how those approaches might be able to be best channeled to assist others people and projects in the workplace. So, don’t bring a fresh idea to the deliberative person until you’re ready to hear them pick at it, if you want to know what’s been tried before and why, maybe ask someone with the input strength, etc.

          Personal Anecdote: Out of all the personality assessments I’ve had to do in the workplace (a lot), I found Clifton the least intrusive and unpleasant, and it definitely seemed to help the (struggling, young) manager I had at the time. He’d previously complained about me always being negative when he presented an idea – after doing it, he said he realized he hadn’t understood that my negativity was actually about me trying to anticipate problems and eliminate/manage them before they actually unfolded. Once he had language and a basis of understanding what I was doing, we developed a working relationship that was much less frustration filled – he came to understand I was trying to make his ideas stronger, and so stopped abandoning them immediately on my pushing back (which would always frustrate me, because I’d come back with ideas and plans to make an idea work safely, and he’d be like ‘No, we’re not doing that anymore,’ because he’d thought I was opposed to the idea.)

          But, I never got to read the booklets or guidance – the place I was working when I did it very much approached the Clifton Strengths as a tool for management to understand their team, not a tool for employees to understand themselves, and having no reports at the time, I was basically given a read out on “here are what your strengths came back as, here’s what those mean, let us know if they seem wildly off base to you.”

      2. OP Here*

        OP Here – lol we had to do the Clifton Strengths Finder on our first day on the job as well! And then we never use it again really. I love going back and reading through people’s answers though because you do it on your FIRST DAY you literally are so starry-eyed about the job that your answers are completely goofy.

    2. Meghan*

      I want people to know as little as possible about my personal life at work. I *wish* I could be like the lady who wrote in a while back where her colleagues didn’t know that she had a husband or children because she didn’t talk about them at work.

      1. NYC Taxi*

        Yes! That woman is a rock star. At previous job I had a pic of my nephew, who looks so much like me, on my desk and people thought he was my kid. I never corrected them.

        1. allathian*

          When my son was in daycare and first grade, I had a picture of him at my desk at work. But when he was in second grade, he asked me not to take a new photo of him to work, and I respected his wishes. He’s a very private person, always has been, and the idea of people he doesn’t know looking at his photo and maybe commenting on it makes him uncomfortable, so I generally don’t give people the opportunity to do so. He’s a lovely kid and pretty much the center of my universe, but I don’t need to show him off at work, although most of the coworkers who know me well enough to talk non-work things with know I’m married with a teenager.

  12. NeedRain47*

    Seems like OP’s employer could facilitate discussion about values *as they relate to work*, instead of wanting people to bring their personal life into it.

    Otherwise you’re basically testing peoples’ abilities to lie and b.s., nothing more.

  13. LMB*

    This kind of stuff just wastes time and brain space for employees. I have no idea what companies are even trying to achieve with it.

  14. C*

    We talked about values in our work, like what our overall values are and how we can make our job position fit with them more, but having ones like “wealth” and “religion” are just… weird.

  15. AudraMorgana*

    This is based on a Brene Brown exercise. We have done this at work, but only for us to know for ourselves. They weren’t shared, or part of any regular meeting. It was part of a wellness program to help you find your motivators. Again, we did NOT share them with anyone, it was purely an exercise for our own knowledge, and the person leading the exercise was a wellness consultant, not anyone from the management of the company.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Yep, if these things must be done, this is how to do it.

      I’ve been known to assign my professional-school students the Work Values Assessment (search it; there’s at least one free online version), but purely for their own self-knowledge. I don’t ask them their scores (though I do share mine) and I certainly don’t grade them on them!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t get it.
      “Helping you find your motivators” is either a patently easy task, or something that requires therapy.

      Do people really not understand themselves so badly?

      1. Gracely*

        You might be surprised at just how many people never take the time to sit back and reflect on what they do and/or why they do it.

        (But regardless, it should not be a work thing you’re forced to share with everyone!)

      2. Esmeralda*

        Oh, people don’t stop to think about these things much. Asking people to reflect is a good idea. Asking people to rip open their hearts…not so much.

      3. LawBee*

        Sure, if you’re like me and tend to go with your gut. I know I’m not money-motivated but beyond that, I’ve never really thought about it. If something feels right for me, then it does, and I’ve never felt the need to put a label on why.

        1. Despachito*

          Same here.

          The fact we do not feel the need to ruminate over it does not mean we neglect it. It is like when you love someone, or if you like certain food – the feeling is there, you know it is positive, but it would be very difficult to name it. And I do not see anything wrong with it.

          1. Russian in Texas*

            Same. I really don’t feel the need to introspect or find motives or anything.
            I like or love what I like, I don’t like what I don’t like, and I don’t need to know or care why.
            I am pretty middle aged now, and I am fine with what I am.

      4. Lab Boss*

        I teach a (non-workplace) leadership course that does a very broad breakdown about motivators and social styles. I don’t tell the people anything they don’t know about themselves, but the discussion always brings out at least one moment of “oh wow, I DO react like X when stressor Y happens on a project.” It’s all facts that they were aware of about themselves, but put into a framework that helps them really see how those facts fit together into a bigger picture.

      5. AudraMorgana*

        This was for an optional wellness class, with a certified professional (who is both a licensed nutritionist and licensed therapist). It helped me discover things like I am more likely to work out if there is an altruistic purpose, like a charity walk (and staying in shape in order to participate), because altruism is very important to me. I know my values and principles, but I had never reflected on choosing the absolute top 5, which is what this was. That said, I did write them out on a post it and put in on my monitor base, just as a reminder of what to look for to keep myself going during periods of higher stress.

      6. Reluctant Manager*

        Sometimes it helps to give a positive reframe. I’m a PITA about honesty in marketing, which is unpopular, but “I value integrity” is a hard one to argue with. I’m called nitpicky, but that’s because I value excellence.

    3. anonymous73*

      This is still not okay, unless it was entirely optional. My employer is not the place to get to know myself, and it’s a complete waste of time when I could be productive and getting some work completed. That’s what my loved ones are for, and therapy if it gets to that point.

      1. AudraMorgana*

        It was part of a completely optional wellness program, provided at company cost, run by a licensed professional who is not a member of the staff. There was not even really an option to share. When they explained the exercise, there were examples given, and Brene Brown has a ton of videos on it as well. Access to this program is a benefit available to all staff, and you can choose to use it or not. Like I said, we still didn’t share what the outcome was, that was just for us.

    4. AudraMorgana*

      Let me add, my employer also provides excellent medical benefits at no cost to the employee (and family coverage is $100/mo), a ton of continuing education opportunities (also cost covered), a great 401(k) match, annual cost of living increases (and very good base pay), and annual performance based bonuses. They are also big on making sure our culture is one of accountability, education, DEI, sustainability, and charity. It is a top-down culture, and the CEO is active in the culture and retention strategy – its quite the unicorn company!

  16. PJ*

    I’ve participated in something similar before but with, like, 70 percent less ickiness. My employer (at the time) bought some training/development package, a relatively well known one (I think) – there was a long discussion/exercise to get to selecting the five words that applied to you. But they were assets and strengths and didn’t veer into the personal. So like I said….70 percent less icky!

  17. A+New+CV*

    The things that companies will do to avoid just actually improving working conditions. Wow.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Even in companies that have excellent working conditions, this kind of crap can actually tank morale. These exercises have a tendency to create rifts that didn’t exist prior. That bit in the OP about, “At the end of the meeting, it was implied that “some people” didn’t understand this exercise was “not just about work” (*eye-roll*).” There is never a business need for my employer to know my values or whether they even align with the org values. Can I complete my work and get along professionally with my coworker/clients/management even if we are in opposition with our personal values? That’s all they need to, and have a right to know.

  18. Not really a Waitress*

    When I was teaching college business classes, I had my students do this. But it was a personal exercise not a public one. They had a writing assignment based on it but did not share the direct results. (it was a class on soft skills.) I facilitated a leadership course here at work recently, and recommended it as a personal exercise but it was not done in the classroom. The idea is first: Identifying your core values and evaluate if those are reflected in your actions. And also helps the individual to see if your core values align with the organization’s core values.

    But sharing it in small groups and discussing it with your manager? Not a chance.

  19. kiki*

    Alison’s last paragraph highlighted a trend I’ve noticed as well. I understand the inclination to do stuff like this, but what employers can do that has the most impact on their employees’ well-being is providing comprehensive insurance coverage for mental health services, providing ample time off, giving employees the option to take sabbaticals, and structuring their workplace in ways to alleviate stress caused to employees. It frustrates me more when I see companies offering yoga or de-stress seminars while working their employees to burnout.

    1. Gracely*

      THIS. My workplace has decided it wants to be wellness-focused, while at the same time removing most flex time and not replacing most staff that leaves.

      I want flexibility and coworkers to share the workload, NOT another “free” stress test, weight loss challenge, or diabetes prevention seminar.

      1. linger*

        It says a lot about my last working environment that they ran annual stress-check questionnaires … which were supplied only in hardcopy … and only in a language I can’t read or write … which immediately entailed that any responses I might attempt to give could not be confidential. Oddly enough, I never completed one before leaving for a less stressful existence.

  20. soontoberetired*

    What is it with corporate executives buying into stuff outside consultants push? The consultants always have an agenda. My company is talking a lot about corporate values these days but they are keeping them corporate. They did ask us to list what we think the corporate values should be via survey, with the idea we would all do goals around those values. the problem is the high level values have very little to do with the jobs of most people in this company. and someone’s personal values may have little impact on their job, too.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      “What is it with corporate executives buying into stuff outside consultants push? The consultants always have an agenda.”

      To quote the demotivational poster, “If you’re not a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.”

    2. Threeve*

      I think the most frequent reason is “they just don’t have enough to do.”

      If you’re an executive, there’s an expectation that you have a substantial amount influence over the company. So, in the absence of anything real that needs executive influence, some people just sort of flail around until they find something substantial (often the heavy-handed corporate gibberish that the consultants push) to implement.

  21. irene adler*

    So what is the point of all this value identifying and discussing?

    Will they not hire/promote someone if they object to one of the identified values?

    If a low level employee names “power” as a value, are they moved into management or are they fired for fear they might try to take over things?
    If a manager doesn’t name “leadership” as one of their values do they get demoted out of management?

    1. Magenta Sky*

      “So what is the point of all this value identifying and discussing?”

      It’s this month’s entry in the Management Fad Of The Month Club, or “things to do in lieu of actually paying your employees a living wage.”

      1. irene adler*

        In which case, what a colossal waste of time/energy. Somebody needs more to do. And “somebody” is not the employees.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          And money. I bet most companies that are doing this bought some branded “morale booster” package or something

  22. CheesePlease*

    Just want to say that as someone who is very emotional and sensitive, I would probably be the coworker crying about this. Not that I would plan on it – but if someone asked the type of questions that got me talking about my feelings, it would all burst out. This would also most certainly have happened when I was younger and didn’t have great emotional boundaries at work

    For our sake, please advocate that this change, if possible. It’s also not very helpful!! Why should my employer care about my deeply held religious values? I am here to make nice excel documents and do my weekly reports. Please let me just do that.

    1. Rebecca Stewart*

      As someone with a non-traditional family structure and a minority religion (polyamory and paganism, respectively) I get very nervous when people like employers want to know these things. It’s none of your business, and when people have made it their business, it has not ended well for the employee, so excuse me if I’m a little paranoid.

  23. Elizabeth*

    I have participated in something similar before, but the instructions were very clear that the values were strictly within a work context. We had a couple people start veering into more personal context, and the facilitators stopped the session to tell them that they were heading into inappropriate territory and that we would return to them once they had reframed their answers.

    One of my coworkers was actually offended that she wasn’t allowed to talk about personal values. She kept trying to say that she couldn’t possibly separate them, to which she was told she needed better work/life boundaries.

  24. Tired Social Worker*

    This is a concept from Motivational Interviewing (I’m a therapist), and I find it weird that they would do it at a company training as this is not the appropriate place to look at mental health. The only way this could be effective is if was used within the context of “how can your personal values be manifested within the work setting”.

  25. Magenta Sky*

    My five most important personal values:

    An employer who respects my privacy.
    More privacy.
    Coworkers who respect my privacy.
    Even more privacy.

    1. Sara without an H*

      1. Privacy
      2. Boundaries
      3. Respect
      4. Professionalism
      5. More privacy

      Yep, that about sums it up.

  26. Alexis Rosay*

    My former boss “Amy” used a values exercise I think this might be adapted from–it can actually be a really great and effective exercise when done well. But OP’s company is not doing it well.

    Amy had us identify our top work values individually and then shared them with the team, then through discussion our team had to narrow down what our top team value would be. We ended up identifying an important value we all believed in but felt our team was currently lacking, and it guided us to make a lot of changes for the better. It was a great example of a leader actually using an effective process to find out what’s important to the people under them–it requires being truly open to what people might say and then taking them seriously when they say it.

    I’ve also seen it done poorly–‘James’ took over from Amy and heard how much we loved this values exercise, so he tried to do it as well. Then when the time came, he was upset that we didn’t choose the ‘right’ value. So yeah, it has to be implemented a pretty specific way to work.

    1. anonymous73*

      Even if focused on work values, it shouldn’t be something shared with a group, even if that group is your team. I could see identifying work values and your manager using them as discussion for any career goals and motivators but anything more than that is blurring lines.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        That’s an odd stance to take. My work values are not private, they influence how I work with my team members and are fair game to be discussed. Some team members may value speed of execution, others may value building relationships, and that will impact how we do our work. Conflicting values will lead to conflict unless we can talk about them and resolve them.

        1. allathian*

          Exactly. This is why it’s so important to be able to separate work values and personal values. They do overlap somewhat, a person who values building relationships at work probably also does that in their private life, and a person who values punctuality in their private life is probably not going to be happy to work in a team where everyone else is a time optimist, but in a work context it’s important to be able to focus on the aspects of your values that directly affect how you work.

  27. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    Someone in my HR apparently adheres very strongly to The Secret (or like thinking) and sends out “inspirational” emails that sometimes talk about how your health reflects your choices or your soul or whatever, which is ableist all the time and even more tone deaf during a global pandemic.

    1. quill*

      Would be so tempted to reply with “Today I learned my soul has two differently shaped feet” or something along those lines. (Yes, actual health problem I have, should be obvious to HR that I didn’t chose it, probably isn’t obvious if they’re like this…)

      Wouldn’t, in reality, because I like making a living, but nobody can stop my brain from composing that email.

  28. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    I have seen and asked, “What are the 3 values that you think are most important in a workplace/manager?” to get at what people wanted from the place and their manager, but that is as close as “values” ought to get to being discusses in an interview

  29. Amethystmoon*

    As an agnostic, I’d probably self-select out. I won’t work someplace that demands I out myself to them. Even these days, non-Christians are discriminated against in many places in the US. Yes, it’s technically illegal, but is also often very hard to prove.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Obviously if someone doesn’t report they have religious values, or chooses not to report them, or religious values are last on their list, then they probably aren’t Christian. I was actually educated in a Christian elementary school and we were told to put Christ first, even above families. Yes, honestly that is what they told us. Only way to get around that would be lie through your teeth, which I’d rather not have to do.

  30. catcommander*

    My values are: Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, nice red uniforms… hold on…

      1. Not a mouse*

        Four shalt thou not count!

        (I guess “ruthless efficiency” could be an okay work value. If you’re at a place that values ruthlessness, anyway.)

    1. Deborah*

      I have a boss who is very good in some ways, and less good in other ways, but if he knew this, moving forward there would be A LOT OF CHEESE. So, not a useless exercise at all.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        I agree with a lot of the discussion that this is inappropriate.

        But if I could get cheese and chocolate out of it? Yeah, I’d be willing to sell my principles. :D

  31. DarthVelma*

    I am currently over-worked, under-paid, and very stressed out. I don’t need to spend any part of my workday doing this kind of thing. That’s time that I’m not working on my current workload while more work is piling up.

    Give me more money. Give me more staff. Give me real time off where I’m not worrying about work and how much of it is piling up while I’m out.

    Do not give me platitudes about values. Do not ask me to think about my personal values…because “self-care” might just make it to the top of the list and I’ll quit on the spot.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Right there with you! So sick of wasting time on discussing empty aspirational corporate culture/values, etc. Good grief, every employer is now an emotion vampire–demanding emotional validation from me, requiring my enthusiasm, passion, devotion, and demanding that we are family (we are NOT family), proclaiming that work is fun (nope, it is NOT fun), constantly asking for demonstrations of what an awesome workplace it is but only for marketing purposes to post pics on social media. The reality is we are understaffed, over-worked, stressed, frustrated and lacking progress and focus on business goals. A dysfunctional organization that hopes the smoke and mirrors will fool everyone, and refuses to effect real change that will improve the work environment.

  32. anonymous73*

    If I were asked those questions during an interview, I would express “confusion” in having to answer these questions and then refuse to answer on the grounds that it was inappropriate. If I were forced to do this crap as an employee, I’d do everything I could do to get out of it, report it as inappropriate to my manager/HR/anyone who would listen and start looking for a new job immediately. The workplace is not for therapy and nobody is going to force me to talk about my personal values with a bunch of essential strangers. This is a hill I would die on.

  33. bunniferous*

    I would love to know if anyone used the words “boundaries” or “privacy” as a core value…..

  34. Bee*

    My giant, international fortune almost-100 employer does a similar exercise and a lot of us hate it. We had to go through two full day workshops and learn a bunch of pseudo neuroscience bullshit. Stuff like how if people were stressed they were in fight or flight mode and wouldn’t be in a good space to collaborate, and we all needed to be at the right vertical level to be our best.

    There was an optional homework assignment in the materials that was all about finding and defining your purpose in life. Not work related, like actual life purpose. They had some bad feedback before my round so I think that’s why they made that part optional, but we still talked about it for like 30 minutes at the start of day two. Which of course means people were talking about religion and how family and god was their purpose and my agnostic existentialist butt is just sitting there super uncomfortable. A bratty part of me wanted to talk about how I didnt believe there was a purpose to life but I genuinely did not feel like it was a safe space to share. The whole thing was such a waste of time.

  35. I'm Done*

    That to me has overtones of a cult. I could not work for a company like that. I provide you with my professional expertise, in return you pay me. My private values and what goes on in my head is none of your business.

  36. Danniella Bee*

    I disagree with Alison’s take. I think selecting a company to work for should in part come down to values and your personal values should align with the company’s espoused values and the values in action as far as how employees are treated and how business decisions ultimately get made. If you work for a company that has very different personal values than you do as an individual your happiness and job satisfaction tend to decline. Companies are focusing more on intrinsic rewards which links directly with a value system. Talking about personal values in the workplace matters.

    1. anonymous73*

      Then the company should inform you of their values and you can decide if you agree with them or not. You should not be forced to talk about ANYTHING personal in a work setting. My #1 value is privacy, and any company that expects me to share anything personal about myself can F all the way off.

    2. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      I apologize in advance for suggesting that this is just more corporate gobbledygook. “Companies are focusing on more intrinsic rewards which links directly with a value system.” And people just want to be treated with respect and paid fairly for their expertise – they should focus their rewards there.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, absolutely. Sure, most people are happier if their private values match, or at least aren’t in open conflict with the corporate values as shown (rather than as stated) by their employer.

        I’m not particularly money motivated, as long as I have enough for the necessities and some of the luxuries. I work in for the public sector rather than the private one, because I find personal wealth above a few millions to be morally abhorrent, and I won’t contribute to it if I can help it. I’ve never lived to work, and I actually feel rather sorry for people who do, is there really nothing else significant in your life that you care about more than your job? But my work to live rather than live to work attitude means that employers who ask for emotional engagement from their employees get some serious side-eye from me. Passion and work don’t belong in the same sentence.

    3. Scarlet2*

      “Espoused values” don’t mean much. Look at all the companies doing greenwashing and pretending to stand for equality, etc. without practicing what they preach.
      “Intrinsic rewards” are a luxury for a lot of people. I care about paid fairly and treated with respect and that’s the kind of things you see in practice (no company will ever tell you they pay employees badly and treat them like dirt, even if they do). I honestly couldn’t care less about my employer’s professed “values”, unless I find their business inherently repulsive, but then I wouldn’t go work for an arms manufacturer or anything of the sort anyway.

    4. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Yes, please question me about my personal life, physical wellness, mental wellness, values and activities for a job. Have to make sure I’m a great fit, right? I mean my references might only talk about how well I do a job. They can not say if my values are appropriate for company.

      No, wait. I think I disagree with your take and how intrusive a company should be into my personal life beyond “will she do a great job?” (Oh, and the answer is almost always going to be a “yes”, because I only apply to companies who show decent values.)

  37. ShysterB*

    I am commenting only to say that the comments on the “We have to write deeply personal poems …” (which I somehow missed when it was originally posted) have me howling in laughter, just as I am about to join a Teams meeting for women at our firm that will, I am absolutely sure, include breakout sessions with some vaguely similar exercise.

      1. ShysterB*

        I kid you not, there was first a 35 minute presentation on A-S-P-I-R-E and what each letter stood for and how to define it for ourselves (ambition, strategy something something relationship building and empowerment), and I had to mute myself because I was giggling still and then I was assigned to the “empowerment” breakout and I was completely useless for the entire session.

  38. SallyForth*

    Whenever I hear of these corporate culture things gone wrong I always think of my sister’s tale of attending one days after she discovered a huge discrepancy in her salary versus that of lesser performing male colleagues.
    She repeatedly answered “money” as an answer to what motivates her. When told money wasn’t a value she said “financial security.” When she was told she wasn’t cooperating and being a team player at the retreat and she needed to listen, she said maybe they should listen to what SHE was saying. No need to spend days in a retreat defining values when one employee felt like they weren’t valued at all.

    1. wendelenn*

      Good for her! (But I thought your sister Jackie owned the little store? Sorry–username reference I coudn’t resist)

  39. Me!*

    All aboard the Nope train to I Don’t Think So Town! Choo chooo!

    Seriously, this would be such a huge turnoff in an interview. I would wonder 1) if the employer were gullible enough to actually pay for a consultant or a quiz from some gimmicky company pushing this stuff, and 2) how much more invasive they would get if I were actually working there.

  40. voyager1*

    Meh. If I had to do this in an interview, it would be no big deal to me. In a work setting team building event, again no big deal.

    We did a personality assessment once at work. The entire team came down on one side of the pie chart. The manager was on the opposite side. Our manager really had trouble with management. Seeing her come down the opposite side as the rest of us, was very eye opening and confirming for most of us.

  41. El l*

    If this were much better defined, this could actually be a decent exercise. To wit: Make clear that this was ONLY about professional work, you cut out things like religion, and you built trust so that people actually would think about how they worked.

    For example, it would be good to know that an engineer is a strong stickler for “accuracy” – it would suggest they were better at some jobs and worse at others. It would also be good to know that so-and-so is all about “power” at work.

    But no. This can’t be personal. Strong red line.

  42. Woah*

    Exercises like this aren’t unheard of in social services/related fields, because we are often working with people who may have different values and need to be aware of our own to avoid bias and understand our own positionality. But its personal work.

  43. Khatul Madame*

    I think the trend to poke into the employees “whole selves” may be an attempt to manage remote or hybrid workforce. It is true that many (not all!) people feel isolated when 100% remote and Zoom meetings/Slack chats do not quite meet the need for human interactions on personal topics, aka work friendships. This is just a part of mental health impacts of Covid, which are widespread and spill into workplace. So, a part of this exercise is trying to help employees in the hope that they will work better, stay with the company etc. And while many people need this help (compassion, therapy), relying on the employer for that is naïve at best.
    The other side of this could be this notion that because the employer cannot see us outside of video calls, they cannot control us, so they attempt to learn more about us, through our values in this case. However, very few companies have the wherewithal to actually use this knowledge for bad or for good.

  44. SbuxAddict*

    I had a local board I’m on ask us to fill out one of these before a retreat so we could discuss it. I wrote the chair and explained I felt very uncomfortable about it and would not be completing it. I was told it was the foundation of the retreat for this board of directors and I could just put down anything as long as I filled it out. I refused again and was told they would handle it at the retreat. The retreat ended up being pushed back due to the covid upswing and it hasn’t come up again. I’m due to rotate off the board in September so hopefully I won’t have to do it at all.

    I don’t understand why I would want to share fairly intimate things with people I’m on a board of directors with. Half of them I wouldn’t know if I passed them in the grocery store. I’m supposed to just expose my minority religion, my personal values, and other emotional data to people I don’t know?

    I think if a prospective/current employer did this, I would react just as poorly. I don’t owe an employer or volunteer board that level of intimacy.

  45. Coffee Bean*

    Hey Employer – you know what I value? My privacy. Oh – and keeping my work and personal life separate.

  46. Jam Today*

    I periodically regret my sense of morality and conscience, because I really think I would excel at selling monorails, I mean management consulting services.

    1. anon4eva!*

      Funny you say that, I saw an “Adam Ruins Everything” or a “the g-word” episode where American transportation companies in the early 20th century were campaigning to have a monorail installed in all 48 contiguous states to provide 1 safe clean method of transportation with low production costs, but then when the automobile was introduced, the companies realized they could sell individual cars (sometimes 2!) to a person and make more money that way, even though it hurt the environment to build all these cars.
      When the middle class finally developed in America by the 1950s, pushing car ownership to these families was purposely perpetuated as some sort of “ideal” or “rite of passage”, ignoring the pollution it was causing in major cities and the high pedestrians deaths.

  47. Falling Diphthong*

    Tip of the hat to anyone at this company who makes their email signature “Woo Maximizer; motivated solely by Power.”

  48. Don't kneel in front of me*

    My personal values: Work, Life, Balance, Peace, and Quiet.

    In other words: keep your culty corporate nonsense out of my life.

  49. Herman's Hermits*

    I would just say the same value every time it got personal. Privacy. That’s a value!

  50. That One Person*

    A part of me thinks it’d be funny to frame everything in a “classic Bond villain” way – especially with power as an option. However I wonder if this a way to see whose more open to the company (such as the people who end up crying or divulging so much personal stuff). In a way yeah they can play therapist and hope not to pay for one, but the cynical side wonders if they’re looking to see whose potentially malleable mentally as well so they can turn those people into blind loyalists. With instilled loyalty they can get away with shorting employees more things with the hopes they won’t complain/rise up against management, or at least won’t have to deal with everyone.

  51. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    This reminds me of Scientologists who want you to reveal your most personal information then keep it for future blackmail if you try to leave their “church”.

    That said you could have some fun with this, values such as gumption (especially when job searching), annual raises well above market value, failing up, unlimited expense accounts and Mondays off seem like good things to value!

  52. Witty Nickname*

    My values are definitely 1) Boundaries, 2) Work-life-balance, 3) Personal Space, 4) Not Oversharing and 5) Pay Raises (bonus #6 – using two or 3 words when needed because restricting me to only 1 is arbitrary and doesn’t work for me).

  53. Bumblebee Mask*

    We recently did a leadership training with just the managers and above in my department. It became clear to me that when put on the spot, as I was, I could not honestly come up with 5 values. I ended up listing a couple the facilitator listed and then looking at a couple coworkers’ papers. Clearly honesty was not one of my values.

  54. Aitch Arr*

    Oh hell to the no.

    I’d probably rank the Seven Deadly Sins in order of priority, or something.

  55. Testerbert*

    Asking someone to distill down a ‘value’ into a single word is pointless. Let’s say someone lists ‘Honesty’ as one of their values, that’s a grand one to list! Hard to argue with honesty as a value. What happens when one person’s ‘honesty’ is petty bullying wrapped up in ‘telling the truth’ while someone elses involves speaking truth to power, proclaiming that the managements new clothes in fact do not exist?

    Such a pointless exercise. You either wind up judging people based on their answers, or everyone flocks to ‘safe’, lukewarm things to avoid awkward questions.

  56. Anonymous Pinko*

    My personal values involve some pretty strong anticapitalist stances, so uh…not sharing those!

    1. RB*

      Just came here to say that Privacy would be my #1 value. Would love to see the reaction that would have gotten. Or realism. How about that as a value? So that when you tell me I might be working 55-60 hours a week, realism would say that that’s not sustainable. So that’s three values right there, Privacy, Realism, and Sustainability.

      1. PurpleGal*

        We did a “team values” activity at my company, but it was all work-related. We all shared what we valued in a work environment. Some were interpersonal (treating others kindly, recognizing each other’s strengths and contributions), others were more practical (flexible working schedules, clear email communications, etc.) It was helpful and personal to an extent – but still focused on work. Was

        1. Vio*

          that sounds like a far more sensible approach. personal values are important, but they’re also personal. work related values are very appropriate to work and your employer is far more entitled to an idea of what those are than they are to your personal stuff

  57. BigRedNope*

    YUCK! I’m a friendly extrovert who loves talking, but this is a big nope from me.

    If they insisted, I’d probably say with a very straight face, “dogs, croc charms, dutch bros coffee, new roller skates, netflix.”

  58. Vio*

    suggesting you consider what your own personal values are *could* be good advice. asking you to share them is invasive and personal. all of that aside, it’s not likely people will be completely honest anyway. if you value your family, friends and health significantly higher than your employers company (which, even if you are passionate about their business is healthy) you’re not likely to feel comfortable actually telling your employer that

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