The Significance of Values in an Organization

Why are values weakened?

There are many reasons, but I want to highlight three that cause a sort of vicious circle in the deterioration of values.

1. Needs can be more pressing than values

Values themselves don’t deteriorate. What weakens is our own capacity to believe in certain principles and their relevance, as a result of the pressure that certain needs exert on us. This in turn takes us back to the basic values of individual subsistence.

For example, when we decide we’re not going to stand in line like everybody else it’s because we consider that our individual needs are more important than those of others. With this type of personal belief, “honesty” loses meaning as a value that bonds us with a community.

This often happens in schools and similar organizations, when teachers or supervisors feel that their need to “control” the group has more value than the “respect” and “dignity” of its members, and use “authority” to impose order. They are surely going to have difficulty in obtaining “respect” in return.

2. It is much easier to convey other values

The real impact of values in an organization is reflected in the actions and attitudes of its members. It’s our behavior that translates values into our daily activities: 

Imagine a parent teaching her child the importance of truth or responsibility. A moment later, the child tells the parent that a debt collector has just called on the phone, and the parent casually says: “Tell him I’m not home.” 

Imagine something that happens frequently in a company: We don’t look away from the computer while talking to a colleague we “respect”, and saying something like: “I’m not looking at you, but I’m paying attention.”

3. There is great social pressure in favor of “anti-values”

In a society that over-stimulates consumption, citizens end up being valued more for what they have than for what they are as individuals. As a result, appearance, or power often become higher values than responsibility, and we end up saying that “the end justifies the means.”

When we talk about the formation of values, or when we demand them that certain values be adopted, we need to do so with a certain amount of humility. Values are reflected even in peoples’ most casual behavior, and many of these behaviors are little more than habits, at times adopted unconsciously.

In this sense, values can be much more useful as a guide for the members of a work team or a family, when they are defined as leading to concrete, desirable behaviors.


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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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