How Do You Attract People Who Align with Your Values? From values to behaviour statements

I have known Mo for over three years, and she oozes compassion. She is the kind of person who will do anything to help, is always positive, and is simply kind to her core. If you are her friend on Facebook, she greets every day by sharing a positive, uplifting quote. 
But when I first met Mo at one of our recruitment workshops, she was nervous, and her compassionate nature took a while to show. It was as if she had to thaw out and trust herself and the process. Her compassion came through in the scenario cards and in the conversations around the table. Recruiting and then working with Mo made me realise that spotting compassionate people is not as obvious as I first thought.
How can you attract and recruit people who are committed to your purpose and possess the values you are looking for?  The smart answer is, in everything you do! In practice, it is looking at every step of the recruitment process and ensuring that you have been thoughtful about how you appeal to the people you are looking for. Every recruiter will, of course, do that, but this requires a different level of subtlety. Jackie LeFevre, our values expert, reminds me that technically, values live in the limbic circuitry of the brain, so saying, “we are looking for people with these values” will not do it. You attract people through the information that you share, what you ask for, and how you ask for it. 
Here is how we are learning to attract people who align with our values:
  • In how we describe the role
  • In how we describe who we are looking for
  • In the adverts we place and where we place them
  • In our application pack
  • In our touch points with candidates
  • In our workshop/interview process
Many organisations include their stated values on their website or as part of their recruitment. But there is a step that is often missed, and we almost missed it, too: you need to make values tangible, moving from a word or two to clear definitions and what they mean in practice. In this series of blogs, we are exploring each element of the list above, and in this blog, we will look at the step that is often missed: defining values and the behaviours you expect to see before you start value-based recruitment.
Defining values explicitly—moving beyond one word descriptions
We wanted to consciously connect the values and beliefs of Wellbeing Teams with the culture we are creating. This means being explicit about our values and describing the behaviours we would expect to see when we are living them.
Jackie LeFevre explains that values are ideas—highly emotionally charged and rich in energy, but abstract. So, the next step in making our values concrete was to specify exactly what they meant. For example, the value of compassion can mean different things to different people. To some, it simply means being nice and kind, while to others, it means taking action in the face of suffering.
This means that we must go beyond one-word descriptors for values. Having done this, we must then look at the behaviours you would see, or not see, when we are living our values.
Wellbeing Team’s values
Here are our values and what they mean to us. The definitions here are taken from the Minessence Values framework (, not developed by us, and are specific and precise. 
Compassion means actively hearing and sensing others’ thoughts and feelings, being kind, and finding empathetic ways to support individuals and each other to achieve positive outcomes.
Responsibility means initiating ways of working that dignify everyone at the same time as holding self and others accountable for actions and attitudes in relation to our shared purpose and values.
Collaboration means cooperating with others by sharing ideas and insights to find ways we can both individually and collectively achieve positive change.
Curiosity means feeling energised by discovering new insights, learning, finding answers to questions, and wondering at the world.
Creativity means exercising the capacity and ingenuity to respond appropriately to seize opportunities without needing to be directed or instructed by others.
Flourishing means creating the conditions for thriving that reflect aspirations, remove barriers to connection, and ensure people choose their own way forward.
As well as Jackie, another person who has influenced my thinking on values is Brene Brown. She is a researcher, storyteller, and guru on vulnerability and leadership, and her work feels so aligned with how we think in Wellbeing Teams that I became a certified facilitator in her Dare to Lead work. (
She made me realise that it is not enough to have a shiny list of values, even as detailed and precise as the one from the Minessence framework. 
Describing the behaviours that reflect each value
I  sat in a large hotel conference room in Texas listening to Brene Brown talk about the importance of values as part of my training to be able to deliver her Dare to Lead programme.  I had just about got over my amazement at being in the same room as Brene and was hoping that her talk on values would reinforce what I had been learning from Jackie.
I was not surprised when she said that out of all the organisations she has worked with, less than 10% have defined what their values mean in practical, behavioural terms. I was shocked when I realised that for all our work on values, this was not something that we had done. If you don’t know what your values mean in practice, it is very hard to use them to inform your recruitment process and they could simply stay as a list of words that you incorporate into job descriptions. Brene reinforced what Jackie had said: ideally, for each value, you need a clear definition and a description of what behaviours align with and do not reflect that value. That seems obvious to me now, and when I got back to the UK, we worked together as a team to develop behavioural descriptions of each of our values. Here is what our first value—compassion—looked like after this work.
Attracting people who align with our values
For Wellbeing Teams to function effectively, compassion has to be our anchor. The description of the behaviours we want to see and do not want to see helps us both in recruitment and in checking how we are living our values.
How do we recruit people who are compassionate? 
I will go into the details of how we do this in future blogs, but first, here is an overview of our values and some of the ways we identify people who align with this value through the recruitment process.
In this list I mention Scenario Cards. We have two sets—one that asks questions that reflect values, and one that describes practical, challenging situations faced in Wellbeing Teams to see how people respond. Of course, we are looking for values alignment in the answers to both sets.
Values cards example
Can you share an example of a risk you took that did not work out in the way that you had hoped and what you learned from this?
When was the last time you felt like you failed at something? What happened, and what did you do as a result?
We want to learn about compassion for self, taking responsibility for actions, and curiosity and learning from these questions.
What-if scenario cards example:
What would you do if you turned up at someone’s home, ready to support them to have their evening meal, and there was no one home?
What would you do if you saw from the medication record in someone’s home that your colleague had given the wrong medication and it had not been reported?
We have procedures that help people know what to do in these situations, and what we are looking for here is again whether people respond in a way that aligns with our values. 
In the first scenario, we want people to respond in the same way that you would if it was your family member – going through a range of possible reasons and checking them out (compassion, curiosity and collaboration here). In the second question, is there any blame and passing the buck? Is compassion on show—to the person and their colleague, without dodging the responsibility of the seriousness of this? 
Our values and a summary of how we identify people who align with this value
How people are identified who align with this value through the recruitment process
We look for compassion and kindness in:
The scenario card questions—these include scenarios that reveal people’s ability to be compassionate to their colleagues and people we support (as well as self-care and self-compassion).
We look at compassionate touch (the Wellbeing Worker role includes providing personal care) through hand massage.
There are exercises during the day that include reflection on one-page profiles and values questions that reflect bringing your whole self to work.
We have scenario sessions that reveal how people take responsibility for their own work and responsibility to the team.
The group activities are a way for people to demonstrate how they take responsibility e.g. different roles.
Self-management requires giving people feedback, which we see as a gift. There is an exercise where people are required to give their partner feedback on their performance.
The majority of the workshop is spent working in pairs, triads, or small groups and we pay attention to how people collaborate and work together.
We are looking for people with a growth mindset, who are curious and want to grow and develop. We have values and scenario cards that give people an opportunity to demonstrate this. The questions that people ask in the interview section of the workshop are an opportunity for people to show their curiosity (interviewing leaders).
We have a specific group exercise where people can demonstrate their creativity in how they ‘make’ something, as well as answers to some of the values cards.
We ask questions about how people take care of their wellbeing within the values and scenario cards. 
The missing step in value-based recruitment
The missing step in values-based recruitment is clarifying exactly what is meant by each value and what you would see and not see in people who align with that value. Without this, the risk is inserting value-related words and questions within recruitment but without knowing specifically what you are looking for.
The approach of ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ cannot work in recruitment, where there is a commitment to equality, diversity, and safe recruitment. We are good at specifying what we expect to see in relation to experience and qualifications and need a similarly specific rigor when it comes to values alignment. 

Rebecca’s reflections
This blog explains the important steps in the relationship between values and behaviour. This is important both in recruitment and retention. The explanation of how to use scenario cards to tease out people’s values is clearly outlined in this blog. This is not a simple task and one which takes time and effort to achieve but the rewards are clear. There is a clear link between behaviour and process too. At Independent lives we have worked hard over the years to attract and retain people with values that align with our own but the focus on process in this blog is fascinating. Some of our quality systems and organisational approaches may have been created as a result of best practice at the time but the challenge here to review recruitment process as a demonstration of our values is powerful. The learning from wellbeing teams could also include the personal values of Direct Payment employers and Personal Assistant. This would make these matches connect and flourish for the future.

At Independent Lives we offer information, advice, care and support and have promoted values to bring in and retain a great team of people who enable people to live independently with choice and control. With the need for social care increasing helping people who have not worked in the sector before to see that there are roles that align with their personal values is key.  
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