The article “Public-service values and ethics: Dead end or strong foundation?”
brings into the spotlight values and rules within organizations. It looks at
the “underlying spirit of public service” (Heintzman 2) and seeks to strengthen organizations through revisiting
the basics and incorporating new approaches to values. Heintzman recognizes both
the benefits and the difficulties encountered when dealing with values in an organization.
It is essential to remember the “underlying spirit” (Heintzman 2) and purpose
of public service organizations is to serve the public interest. It is not there
to cater to the desires of the people within the organization. The values of
the organization should reflect its goals. Those within the organization do and
should have a role to play in determining these values and goals. However, the
public interest must be kept in mind. Values must be determined based on a higher
morality than one’s mere beliefs.
It is sometimes necessary to revisit the basics of public service and its values. Knowing the values behind the rules is essential to carrying them out effectively. This by no means signifies getting rid of the rules.
Rules can be good as long as it is realized that they are not the end all. Ideally,
the rules in an organization will reflect its values. However, values and rules
are constantly forming. Having a value does not necessarily result in a rule
being made. Rules are generally created in response to a value being compromised. There are values, as well, that are yet to be made into rules. Also, there are rules that no longer uphold the values of the organization, but the rule has yet to change.
Recognizing the values behind rules is important for a number of reasons. First of all, rules are not always effective motivators. What
motivates us is not the rule, but rather the value behind it. We may value the
idea of respecting rules. This would then be what motivates us to follow the
rules, rather than the rules themselves motivating us. (Heintzman 6)
Recognizing these values are important, secondly, because it is easier to follow a rule
when the reasoning behind it is understood. When thinking in terms of situations
outside of organizations, values seem to be stronger driving forces than rules. This
same concept should be applied within organizations. The way in which we act
is going to reflect the values we hold. Thus, if we recognize the values behind
the rules in the organization, we can adopt them as our own and act accordingly.
Realizing the values behind rules is also important because there are times when there
are not specific rules regarding a situation. Thus, one needs to be able to make
decisions without the necessity of rules. In this situation, the person needs
to make a decision based on values both he and the organization hold.
Our actions are guided by our values. Many
decisions are made based on what we feel is the right thing to do according to our consciences. Therefore, we must become aware of our values and inform our consciences accordingly. We must also keep each other accountable based on these values. This
is very important in a public service organization.
I can anticipate the significance of values and accountability in my possible future in
nonprofit administration. It is important for the values and goals of the organization
to be clearly stated and understood by each employee. Keeping each other accountable
within the organization is just as important in maintaining and carrying out the purpose of the nonprofit.
It is difficult to form values within an organization.
There are differing ideas amongst the employees and the receivers of the organization’s services. Also, even when an appropriate value system is agreed upon, it is open to interpretation. Each person may carry out the values of the organization differently based on their own individual values
and interpretations. However, recognizing these values and applying them within
the organization is a worthwhile process in the long run.
Once the organization’s values are defined, not too broadly and not too narrowly,
employees will start to catch on. Their values will start to conform to those
of the organization. Thus, the employees should be reminded often of the organization’s
values and goals and be held accountable to them.
Employees should be taught to think for themselves and make decisions based on values. Their values should ultimately be guided by seeing and striving for the greater good. This causes them to live and work virtuously.
In addition to being able to made decisions by themselves, employees also need to be able to collaborate and make decisions
with the whole of the organization and its purpose in mind.
Values are a part of life and we each have them. They may differ amongst
each person and can change throughout stages of one’s life. Values are
important in guiding our decisions. When it comes to values in an organization,
they can be quite difficult to form because of their ambiguity and openness for each individual to interpret them in their
own way. However, a “strong foundation” is important in an organization. The orientation towards virtue becomes a good foundation for hard to define values.