How Personal Values Can Affect the Workplace

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Different personal values can get in the way of business relationships.
Different personal values can get in the way of business relationships. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

It’s rare, if not impossible, to find two people whose personal values are an exact match. However, people with vastly different personal values often work together in the same workplace. These personal differences can make professional relationships difficult. When that occurs, a business’ bottom line can suffer. Understanding how personal values can affect the workplace and how to help employees overcome difficulties resulting from different values can ultimately help you maximize profits.

Lack of Collaboration

People are drawn to people with similar values. However, employees usually don’t get to choose their colleagues. Unfortunately, when employees don’t have the same personal values, they may experience difficulties relating to each other. As a result, they may avoid anything that requires working together. They may also fail to share important information. The result is a silo mentality. Because teams are better than individuals at solving problems and finding creative solutions, a lack of teamwork due to differing personal values can impact the entire organization.

Conflicts

In the workplace, conflicts between employees can stem from differences in personal values. For instance, one employee may object to the outsourcing of a business function because he doesn't want employees in a third-world country getting paid significantly less than American employees to complete the same task. Such conflicts can lead to impasses, particularly when all employees’ buy-in is needed to make something work.

Incivility

When employees’ personal value differences result in clashes, incivility can ensue. Employees may resort to gossiping, name-calling and other behavior that is detrimental to business and professional relationships. This is because personal values are such closely held beliefs that when a person feels his personal values are under attack, he may feel that he is under direct attack as a person.

Promoting Diversity

Different personal values are just one more aspect of workplace diversity. All employees need to understand that your company values diversity and that they are expected to do so as well. Your company’s policies are a good place to communicate this. You should also provide training to help employees understand how differing personal values can be an asset and how to treat coworkers with civility and respect, regardless of differences in personal values.

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