The Significance of Values in an Organization

Some challenges that values present to us

First of all, values are intimately related to our emotions and feelings. For example, if we value honesty, then dishonesty disturbs us and hurts us. The same applies to sincerity, respect, responsibility or any other value.

We all occasionally have a hard time explaining our feelings. Similarly, in a community or in an organization, it’s often difficult for us to agree on the practical meaning of a value.

This is due in part to the fact that each of us has our own hierarchy of beliefs, convictions and life principles.

We all build our own personal scale of values. Each of us acquires a set of values during childhood, and attributes significance to them according to our experience, knowledge, and development as individuals. 

Furthermore, values can acquire varying significance depending on the position of the person implementing them.

For example, is publicly disclosing the identity of a person who has released private and confidential information justified in the name of “honesty”? It isn’t easy to reach consensus on this issue. This generates controversy on the universality of some principles.

Values and their hierarchy can change over time. They emerge with a special meaning, and change throughout life, because they are related to individual interests and needs.

When we are children, our values are for the most part defined by subsistence and by wanting the approval of our parents.  In our adolescence, our values are derived from the need to experiment and be independent, and when we are adults, we have other priorities.

This helps explain the obstacles we face in reaching agreements on the principles and beliefs of different people, in different moments in their life.

Lastly, values are closely related to morality and ethics. These are dense and complex philosophical concepts, and it is difficult to agree on their practical meaning.

It’s for this reason that the meaning and usefulness of principles that help provide a sense of unity within an organization often become blurred.

When we make “a list of values” in organizations, we usually emphasize theoretical definitions. We can reach a general consensus on the ideas, but often lack practical expressions of the behaviors implicit in each value.

Our challenge is to translate these values into very specific behaviors in our daily life. In this way we will better nourish relationships between team members, and will achieve our objectives more easily.

If we translate values into concrete actions, they will acquire meaning and will be implemented in our families, our work, and in the organizations where we participate.


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The Significance of Values in an Organization has been published by Cograf Comunicaciones. ISBN 978-980-12-3779-2.
Copyright 2008 Juan Carlos Jimenez. All rights reserved.



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