Appendix: What Do I Do If My Values Don’t Fit With Those Of The Organisation I Belong To?

Book / Produced by Individual TOW Project member

When you spend time examining your work/career, it is possible that so many issues arise for you that you reach a point where you wonder if you are in the wrong job. Sometimes that may well be the case. However, often people who feel uncomfortable are in the right job but in the wrong place. The disquiet and unease they are experiencing is mainly a result of a clash of values.

If you suspect this is the case for you (i.e. your values are out of alignment with those encouraged by the company or group) there are a number of options open to you:

  1. Try to find out more information. This should be along the lines of what the official organisational stance is on a particular issue, and also what flexibility (if any) there is in the organisation for you to influence change.

  1. If there is an obvious difference between the values you hold and those of the organisation you are involved in, and there seems to be little tolerance for change, it may be best to consider looking elsewhere for employment or involvement. This may be more easily said than done, but even if you are unable to leave your organisation for some time there are things you can do to survive while retaining your sense of values and identity. These include meeting for mutual encouragement with others within or outside your workplace who share similar values. Or making use of what limited opportunities there may be to express your values without rocking the boat; e.g. how you dress, how you decorate your workspace, what style of leadership you select and so on. Don’t automatically assume that you have to leave the organisation if your values don’t match. Sometimes people are able to initiate worthwhile changes from within.

  2. If your organisation differs from you on a number of important issues, but you are confident there is some room for negotiation – then go for it. Work respectfully to present a viable alternative. Engage others in negotiating for change. Collective action both within the organisation (again respectful to those who may feel differently to you), and outside the organisation may be possible to bring about change.

For example, Sylvia was concerned when she found that her department had scheduled their planning meeting on a Saturday, when she had commitments as coach of her daughter’s netball team. At the same time, it was difficult to oppose the timing as the others in her department did not have children yet, and did not have an appreciation of the conflict she felt. So Sylvia went to her team leader with an alternative – could the team meet instead for several breakfast meetings to cover the material? She explained her own conflict with the original time, and pointed out that even though she was the only one affected, many other employees would possibly be in the same position in a few years. It would be beneficial for them if they realised that the organisation valued their family commitments enough to ensure that weekends were left free.

  1. Decide to stay within the organisation, and decide that your values don’t matter too much. This will cost you your integrity, and doesn’t really represent a healthy alternative. Unfortunately it’s one that many people take because they fear exploring and pursuing any of the former three options.