Shared Values

By: | April 18, 2017

American citizens come from diverse backgrounds and hold a range of religious and political beliefs, but we also have a shared set of civic values that define us. These shared civic values include support for individualism, equality, liberty, and freedom of faith. However, American society is currently undergoing massive social and political changes at an accelerated pace. As this change occurs, society is beginning to fragment, and over time there seems to be less and less solidarity—which is to say there is increasingly a decreased feeling that we are “all in this together” no matter our differences. Social scientists indicate that the cultural fragmentation and polarization of American society is continuing to grow, leaving behind a time where the American people felt more assured in their shared values and commonalities and replacing it with an era of increasing tension and division. Without a set of core beliefs or shared values, there is little to unite us or help us accomplish great goals as a nation.

From a social perspective, shared values unify like-minded people who share a belief or set of beliefs. They are a fundamental building block for social unity from the family unit all the way to national level. As a member of society, seeing and being around others who share values like yourself instills and strengthens a fundamental sense of belonging. Shared values help to unite diverse populations of people from different ethnic groups, religions, social backgrounds, and economic classes.

A truly successful community will have shared values so that each individual citizen feels a commonality with their neighbor—regardless of their neighbor’s demographic or religious background.

The solution is not easy but it is simple: Americans need to refresh and inspire themselves on the enduring worth and wisdom of our core Constitutional and societal guiding principles -the ones that are shared across demographic lines and have remained stable even during past periods of instability. Guiding principles can see us through this new age of constant disruptive change.

Shared values and organizations

Just as American society is currently undergoing a time of intense division and a lack of shared values, businesses can often suffer from a similar fate. Indeed, in the corporate and business world it is always a good time to revitalize or rediscover shared values and founding principles of your organization as a surefire way to increase employee satisfaction and dedication.

Shared values are most commonly associated with the business world and they often originate within an organization’s corporate culture and its mission statement. When a company establishes clearly defined shared values, employees tend to have much higher job satisfaction, energy level, and motivation. Sharing common values and working for a common goal is one of the best morale boosters there is in any organization, group or even nation. A company’s culture is comprised of many personalities and it can be very difficult to maintain a socially positive, can-do atmosphere at times. Without consistently articulated expectations—based on shared values—problems are guaranteed to become huge headaches.

Shared values connect the entire organization together through trust and mutual inspiration. When employees are on the same page they work much more effectively; making shared values clear and achievable forms a strong bond between company employees and leaders. To illustrate what strong culture looks like, take the online company Zappos, who maintain the world-class corporate culture and strong shared values by explicitly defining the core values of their brand including its culture, and business model. Zappos also has a work-hard, play hard mentality, leading to very high employee satisfaction and productivity. Walt Disney is another example of a successful corporation who places “no cynicism” at the top of their shared values list. This is a shared value that informs the spirit of much of what Disney is involved in. It helps define their vision and keep employees inspired and clear on their priorities and values.

It is essential that a society holds shared values to in order to maintain a healthy culture and a communicative, tolerant society. Having clear-cut, well-defined values is where positive communication starts and corporate culture begins to thrive. If a business operates without shared values or with only vaguely, unconvincing values statements—whether purposefully or by way of poor communication—it won’t be long before things go south into disarray. Employees soon start to make decisions that are not in alignment with the company vision because they are ill-informed and uninspired. A domino effect then often occurs, and before long the company will be feeling the loss financially.

The importance of shared core values to an organization can’t be stated strongly enough – it’s simply essential. Fostering an atmosphere of respect and positive interaction undergirded by crystal-clear, inspiring and achievable vision built on core values is a roadmap for outstanding success and building a happy and hard-working corporate family.

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