Corporate Values and Team Conflict

Written by: Dr. Kim Jessie, DMin

A Story of Misaligned Values

As he approached, I could see the frustration and concern in his face.  He was having a difficult time with several members of his leadership team, and I was there to help resolve some of the conflict within that team.  Because they had never identified their corporate values, we were starting there.

After he greeted me, I thanked him and reassured him that we would seek to identify and resolve the values issue.  We utilized a simple process that had individuals identify their personal values and then identify the key corporate values.  After a brief explanation of values, we brainstormed as many values as possible that were relevant to the work of their team and wrote these on large pieces of paper.  From this list, each team member wrote down his/her top five values.  Then, each team member was given a different colored marker to put a dot by their top five values on the paper.  From the dots, we could see that seven or eight values rose to the top of the corporate list.  We also realized that several dot colors were loners; in that, only one or two people out of twenty had those values.  These were not bad values; they were just different values.

Importance of Value Alignment

According to Aubrey Malphurs, an effective team has a 70% or better overlap in corporate values.  Less than seventy percent indicates conflict to a point that team effectiveness will suffer because of misaligned values.  As the percentage of alignment decreases, the amount of conflict among team members increases.

The Story Continues

Using colored markers gave us an opportunity to see the misalignment without identifying the individuals.  During a break, one of the loner value individuals spoke with me.  She shared that she was constantly frustrated with the team because she could not get people to see the importance of her perspective for the team’s work.  Having identified the corporate values helped her see that what she valued in her life and work was not valued by many of the team and what they valued was not important to her.  She realized that her presence on the team created unnecessary conflict for herself and for the team; so, she decided she should remove herself from the team.  This was not an easy decision, because she was friends with many of the team members.  She felt that one day she would leave the organization to find a place of work more aligned with her values.

The team leader also spoke with me during the break.  He had watched the individuals indicate their values on the board and had noted the divergence between those giving the team grief and those aligned with the corporate values.  He was surprised at how quickly the exercise identified the value misalignment within his team.  Months later, the leader followed up with me.  The team missed the lady who left, but their team was working at a higher level without her.

Identifying Your Values

Identifying and classifying your values provides you with a framework for understanding your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  A simple way to identify your values is to list all the principles that are important to you; then, you can define them and prioritize them.  Another process in identifying values is to become aware of what bothers or angers you.  Things that bother you may conflict with your value system.  Once you know your values, you will be more focused on how your work aligns with your personal principles.

Questions for further thought:

  1. What are your top five values? Which is most important?
  2. How do your values align with the values of your family, friends, and co-workers?
  3. How can you help others identify their values?
  4. What is God revealing to you about your values?

To Download this worksheet, click here:


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