The common basic values — something you have to work on

28 May 2019

AKTUM What are the University's common basic values? A project group has worked intensively to develop materials that truly make everyone at the University reflect. Not just for now, but all the time.

COMMITMENT FROM employees is needed for the work with the University's common basic values — based on the state sector's basic values — to work.

A group of employees at the Faculty Office of Medicine was first to discuss their opinions about the common basic values and hold discussions based on material that the project group had developed.

The work with these basic values took place on an afternoon in which the group tested a team-building exercise that consisted of discussing various 'dilemmas' and thinking about how you would or should behave if you yourself were involved in such a situation.

For example, dilemmas concerned research environments, personal relations, work environment or the support (or lack of support) from managers and leaders at the workplace. The sometimes really tricky questions could involve how to draw the boundary between work and private life as a government official, or how to express oneself on social media.

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE of an everyday dilemma: A departmental administrator is feeling stressed out over all the incoming information and that many colleagues expect him to prioritise their specific tasks. He attempts to examine his process and see how he actually prioritises things. What is the most important thing to do? Does he work his way through each case or task in the order they came in? Or does he try to assess what is most important or pressing? Does he prioritise colleagues with a high status or informal power? Or those he likes most as they are always nice? Or those he is most afraid of, who get angry and shout? It is something worth thinking about. And the answer is perhaps not entirely obvious.

Following the exercise, a discussion with Cecilia Elofsson and Maria Nordström, two of the participants, indicates how important they think it is to work with common basic values.

"These discussions are like adding a little extra fuel to continue our joint work with common basic values," says Cecilia Elofsson, faculty office secretary at the Faculty Office of Medicine.

Suggestions have come from university employees for the various dilemmas that are currently available as working material for the faculties and departments to work with. Such things that employees or students have thought about or even experienced themselves.

"One case we discussed, I could have written myself," says Cecilia Elofsson. "Many of the dilemmas we talked about in this exercise have happened or may very well happen."

MANY CONCERNS WERE raised when the entire group gathered to discuss what they had come up with.
"What can you do if something happens? Should you say something?"

Others noted that this is something we need to practice all the time. There were also those who were concerned that the work and ideas in the basic values should reach all levels of the University.

"There may be different interpretations if you have your own values that you think are more important," ponders Maria Nordström, research coordinator at the Faculty Office of Medicine.

"Yes, before we started work on this, it was probably not everyone that directly thought about basic values, or at least no one talked about it," says Cecilia Elofsson.

They point out, however, that this is a problem for the University and therefore it is good that it is raised and discussed.

"As a government official, you can be faced with big and small dilemmas, several times a month," says Cecilia Elofsson.

Participants in the exercise were also careful to point out that the work on these values is something that needs to be followed up. So they expressed a desire for feedback on the views put forward in their work — and were there and then promised a follow-up.

"It's also important to reach everyone," says Cecilia Elofsson.

WHAT SHOULD YOU do to solve problems that can occur at a workplace?

"I think that we can support each other when it comes to handling different situations," says Maria Nordström.

Though ideally, no dilemmas should arise at the University.

"Exactly. Prevention is preferable," says Cecilia Elofsson. "I get so taken aback when people are nasty. I therefore believe that we need to work on responding to that type of behaviour. This applies to all categories of faculty and staff. And we have to begin somewhere."

"That's when a common approach is important," concurs Maria Nordström.

The exercise conducted in March by the group at the Faculty Office of Medicine is not the only time they worked with their own and the University's common basic values.

"We've had meetings and discussions, with everyone participating," says Cecilia Elofsson. "It was good."

They haven't only been thinking about what to do in the event that something happens that shouldn't have happened.

"Consequences for bad behaviour is also vital," says Maria and Cecilia decisively.

Exactly what kind of consequence is a little harder to say, though.

"A reprimand, a warning. Something more for repeat offenders?"

Those who participated in the exercise with the University's common basic values dared not believe it would directly lead to a perfect life at the University.

"Probably not. We might need more fuel again in a few months," says Cecilia Elofsson with a laugh.


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