Parent Groups – Values

Last week we introduced a new series of posts for you.  Running Successful Parent Groups.  The response we received was quite an eye opener.  We received many messages from people who had either been in a group, set up a group or were still in a group who were not happy but didn’t know what to do next.

Hopefully working through this series, as a group and as individuals, will help you to get back on track.

Values:

Last week we talked about people coming together to set up a group, usually having certain Values.

Sometimes these values change so for example they change from “making a difference” to “making a profit”.  This isn’t wrong but everyone involved needs to know and needs to agree.   Many of the large charities who were set up by passionate parents to make a difference now appear to be more profit driven.  Again, this is fine if everyone involved knows this but often people don’t and this explains why so often there is a backlash on social media.

When a groups’s values changes but not everyone is on board with that change, people start to walk away and disengage.

What are values?

Definition:  Important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a group, organisation or community about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable.

Values have major influence on a person’s behavior and attitude and should serve as broad guidelines in all situations.

A list of over 400 values can be found here.

Why should we have Values?

The values of your group should influence the decisions you make as a group.  If your values are “to make a difference” and “contribution” then before any decisions are made about new projects or day to day activities, you should be able to answer yes to “does this make a difference?” and “does this contribute to our mission/vision”?

If the answer is no, then you need to go back to the drawing board and rethink it.

Having some firm values helps when groups grow and develop.  They are quite a straight forward way of helping the group to adapt to the need of its members or other people involved in running the group.

How do we choose our Values?

This has to be done as a group.  It may be quicker for one person to decide the values but you need everyone to feel some ownership of them.

So look at the list on Steve Pavlina’s site and choose two to four values.  You will probably see many that you think should be a value – integrity, friendship – but as a group, you need to choose the four that reflect what the group is there for.

Perhaps you can compile a list of the values your group members come up with and then have a vote.  Whittle it down to four that you all can see the importance of.

Your Values?

Think about the values that are important to you as an individual.  If one of the group values is “being the best” but one of your values is “sharing” then there may be some conflict.

Do the values of the group reflect your own personal values?  Sometimes they can be slightly different, e.g. making a difference vs making a contribution but the overall goal will be the same.  If your group’s goal is to “make a profit” but your goal is “charity”; can you support the group to reach their goal?  Will the group be able to support you to meet your goal?

What next?

As a group, think about the values you have chosen.  What happens when your group is not “practising what they preach”?  How can you tell if your values are not being used?

We all have those little moments when something happens and it just doesn’t feel right.  Something doesn’t sit well with us and we’re not sure why.

Usually if you go back to the work you have done, as a group, on values, you will see that something doesn’t sit well with you because it doesn’t reflect your values.

For example, if you set up a group with a value of “togetherness” but an activity is suggested which excludes some people, you may feel uncomfortable.  The activity may be amazing but if it doesn’t reflect your values, then perhaps you need to revisit whether or how you do it?


Values – Checklist:

  • Decide who will be involved in choosing the group values (just those running it or those using the group too)
  • Grab a coffee/tea/wine
  • Look at the list on Steve Pavlina’s site
  • Choose 2 – 4 values for your group
  • Collate the values from each group member – who will the answers go to?
  • Decide, as a group, which four values (from the collated responses) are the most important to your group
  • Once you have the four, look at all the different activities, projects and ideas your group has
  • Ask if your values are reflected in these projects?
    • e.g. If your four values are “making a difference”, “contribution”, “companionship” and “happiness”; ask of each activity “does it make a difference”, “does it contribute”, “does it provide companionship” “will it make members happier?
  • If your activities don’t reflect your values then you need to rethink what you are doing or perhaps as a group, you need to rethink your values.
  • Look at your own personal values.
  • Ask if your own values are reflected in the group values?
  • If not, think carefully about your future role.  If you believe that although they are different, you can still support the group then go ahead.

Next week, we will be looking at communication within a group.  How do you communicate with members and each other?  Sign up so you don’t miss it.

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Debs Aspland

Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN. Transplanted from the NW to the SE. Co-writer - Special Needs Jungle Development South - Community Circles Ind Trainer - Inspiring Circles

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