Value as default, not extra

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

What is valuable to you? How do you define what has value?

There are at least eight dictionary definitions for the word, but the one I’d like to focus on for a minute is the one described as “relative worth, utility, or importance”.

It’s a pretty broad application when thinking about our work lives. But one aspect that bothers me is this idea of adding value; the idea that it’s extra, non-standard and could be taken away at anytime. Recruiters ask for this frequently to attract people who will go the extra mile, by asking for candidates who are willing to ‘value add’ to the company.

Here’s an idea: Why not make value part of the service — baked into the core of what you provide as a business?

And, what does adding value actually mean? When you consider the definition of value as described above, it begins with the word ‘relative’, meaning it’s not absolute or specific. It’s a matter of perception isn’t it? Your perception of value is likely to be different to mine.

When I hear someone say, ‘I’m not really adding much value here’, it’s coming from that person’s unique perception of value. But it’s twofold, because it’s also coming from how they perceive their own value. No wait; it’s actually threefold, because that person is also thinking about what I, or anyone else is perceiving as valuable.

That’s a LOT of different versions of value!

Which leaves us pondering the idea of making value part of our service offering — without ever thinking ‘am I providing value today?’ Yes, we can have our vision and mission statements, our company and customer charters and the rest. But I believe the true value we impart through our business is being our own, authentic selves — the unique combination of skills, personality, drive, ambition and spark which makes us valuable.

There will always be an audience — but it’s not for us to decide which one is ours.