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Home Building Communities

Values

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In the two previous topics we have discussed community, vision and their importance. Evans and Lindsay (2008) stated that “vision must be consistent with the culture and the values of the organization.” Every social group has values. The same applies to individuals. From our observations, many conflicts erupt between individuals and in various communities because of lack of shared values or disregard of common values or other peoples’ values. The purpose of this topic is to shade light on values and their importance for the success of individuals, organizations and communities.

Some definitions of values

Values are the rules by which we make decisions about right and wrong, should and shouldn't, good and bad. They also tell us which are more or less important, which is useful when we have to trade off meeting one value over another (ChangingMinds.org, 2011).

According to Lopper (2007), values are deeply held beliefs about what is good, right, and appropriate. Values are deep-seated and remain constant over time. We accumulate our values from childhood based on teachings and observations of our parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other influential and powerful people.

For Heathfield (2011), values are traits or qualities that are considered worthwhile; they represent your highest priorities and deeply held driving forces. When you are part of any organization, you bring your deeply held values and beliefs to the organization. There they co-mingle with those of the other members to create an organization or family culture. Jothikarthikeyan defined values as “guiding principles, or standards of behavior which are regarded desirable, important and held in high esteem by a particular society in which a person lives.”

Examples of values: affection, adoration, dignity, honesty and prosperity.

The importance of values

The importance of values has been discussed by several authors.

According to Jothikarthikeyan, Values and Morals are the code we live by in a civil and just society. They are what we use to guide our interactions with others, with our friends and family, in our businesses and professional behavior. Our values and morals are a reflection of our spirituality; our character. They are what we hope to model for our children and the children around us, because children do watch us as they develop their own sense of right and wrong.
Evans and Lindsay (2008), referring to organizations, stated that “values or guiding principles, guide the journey to a vision by defining attitudes and policies for all employees, which are reinforced through conscious and subconscious behavior at all levels of the organization.”

An interesting concept for organizations is organizational culture. There are several definitions of culture. According Useem and Useem cited by the University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (2009) “culture is the learned and shared behavior of a community of interacting human beings”. “Organizational culture refers to a system of shared norms, beliefs, values, and assumptions which binds people together, thereby creating shared meaning.”…The more clearly an organization’s shared perceptions and values are stated, the more strongly people can identify with their organization and feel a vital part of it…. Culture clarifies and reinforces standards of behavior, and helps create social order within an organization (Gray & Larson, 2008).

Pavlina is of the opinion that once you know and understand your personal values, you can consult them whenever you need to make a key decision.… Your values list provides a shortcut for making these decisions intelligently…. The main benefit of knowing your values is that you will gain tremendous clarity and focus, but ultimately you must use that newfound clarity to make consistent decisions and take committed action.

Lopper (2007) stated that being clear about your personal code of values offers these benefits to life:

1) The values based life is meaningful 2) Life purpose is clearer when based on values
3) Life vision and goals are clear
4) Decisions are easier
5) Choices are clear
6) Stress is reduced
7) Life is easier

It comes out clearly that values are very important for individuals, organizations and communities. Community entails a lot of interactions between people and a lot of decision making. It involves weighting things, coming up with value judgments and making choices. With regards to choices, Margret Betz, cited by Hampton (2004), stated that “community involves making choices which reinforce the experience of relatedness and foster the sense of belonging and interdependence.” This underlines the importance of certain values like a sense of relatedness, a sense of belonging and interdependence for communities.

It is important to mention the relativity of values. Values differ from person to person, organization to organization and society to society. Another aspect of the relativity of values has been well explained by Garforth (1985): “…value commitment is not immutable but is related to, though not wholly dependent on, individual and social needs and circumstances; new values can be introduced into a pattern of commitment or the emphasis in an existing pattern changed.” Lopper mentioned that “Values are deep-seated and remain constant over time”, however Garforth stated that “historical evidence suggests that it is possible to introduce new values or at least to effect a change of emphasis in the existing value pattern (and such, of course, is often the purpose of political revolution)…” This outlines the fact that change may not be easy but it is possible.

It is in the highest interest of communities to have a set of values to which members adhere to and live by. Values need to be practiced, reinforced and transmitted at all levels for them to become real to everybody in the organization or the community. As part of their culture, values will play a greatly influence decision making and provide guidance to achieving the vision of the community. They can be embodied in a value statement that defines how people want to behave with each other in the community.

By J.H. Mukendi Kazadi

Reference list:

1) ChangingMinds.org. (2011). Values, Morals and Ethics. Retrieved April 7, 2011 from http://changingminds.org/explanations//values/values_morals_ethics.htm
2) Gartforth, F.W. (1985). Aims, Values and Education. Hull, England: Chistygate Press.
3) Gray, C.F., Larson, E.W. (2008). Project Management, the Managerial Process. 4th edition. McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York. 2008
4) Hampton, J. (March 31, 2004). Seven Community Definitions. Retrieved March 31, 2011 from http://www.community4me.com/comm_definitions.html.
5) Heathfield, S.M. (2011). Identify and Live your Personal Values. Retrieved April 7, 2011from http://humanresources.about.com/od/success/qt/values_s7.htm 6) Lopper, J. (March 10, 2007). A Personal Code of Values. Retrieved April 7, 2011. http://www.suite101.com/content/a-personal-code-of-values-a15074
7) Jerry Lopez (May 16, 2007). The Value Based Life. Retrieved April 16, 2011 from http://www.suite101.com/content/the-values-based-life-a21013
8) Jothikarthikeyan. CiteHR.com. The Importance of Values and Morals. Retrieved April 7, 2011from http://www.citehr.com/153374-importance-values-morals.html
9) Pavlina, S. Living your values Part I. Retrieved April 7, 2011from http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/living-your-values-1.htm
10) Pavlina, S. Living your values Part II. Retrieved April 7, 2011from http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/living-your-values-2.htm
11) University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. (2009). What is culture? Retrieved April 16, 2011 from http://www.carla.umn.edu/culture/definitions.html

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 May 2011 21:02