Are your values aligned to your job?

Enjoying a coffee in my local café this morning, I witnessed an interesting exchange with a customer and café staff. The customer was requesting an adjustment to a menu item. The staff asked the Chef if that could be accommodated, and the answer was a grumpy ‘No’.

What got my attention was less the refusal, but more the consistency of approach I have seen this Chef approach over time. He gets belligerent if he runs out of basic menu items, and any requests to alter dishes.


I am sure he doesn’t wake every morning with the intention of being difficult or disruptive. I am sure he doesn't intentionally make the lives of the front of house staff difficult and customers uncomfortable, but which he ultimately does.

Not knowing the man, I can but guess at his motivations, but having seen similar behaviour in work environments before, I’ll take a stab.

One possible reason is the Café has a destructive culture. Having witnessed the disposition of the rest of the staff, I’m ruling that out (other than the cultural impact he is creating).

The second and most likely reason is, he dislikes his job – or more specifically, his personal values are not aligned to the job.

Perhaps he prefers working alone vs teamwork. Perhaps he thought he wanted to be a leader, but when he got there realised that the expectations don't align with his disposition. Or, he just loves cooking and social interaction is not his thing.

Early in my career, I worked in a job that didn’t align with my values. The impact over time was corrosive. It was not until I quit that I realised the toll it had taken on me.

Take the time to understand your personal values and align your career and employer choices to them.

This isn’t just some abstract observation - it’s advice I have given to staff and mentees many times, and a reflection on where I am right now on my own journey.

You spend too much time at work for it not to be meaningful. If you don’t love your job – leave it.

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