The Army Values are part of your life and work. Yes, you’re a civilian, but you probably work only a few steps away from a Soldier. Many of us have actually deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and worked alongside Soldiers, wearing the same uniforms they do.
You ask, “Okay, so what? How do I live the Army values in this cubicle?” Read on.
If you need a reminder about the importance of the Army values, you can see them on your annual job performance form. Yes, your TAPES show how your seemingly mundane job can be connected to these high standards.
I did some research by e-mailing my coworkers and asking for their perspectives on the Army Values. None of my coworkers wanted to be quoted by name in this commentary, but what you see here is not just my opinion.
Many people think of this value in regard to keeping loyalty to the U.S. and its Constitution. But we all took the oath of public service when we started our civil service career.
“Loyalty should go up and down the chain of command,” a coworker wrote. “Those in leadership positions should be loyal and provide overhead cover for their subordinates for their efforts in accomplishing the mission, maintaining morale and controlling the operational tempo. These three factors maintain a positive work environment and help with retention. Subordinates should remain loyal to their leaders and units in order to support the mission; but if the leadership is not doing its part, the subordinate will lose their sense of loyalty to the organization.”
Loyalty is easy except when you think the organization has let you down. Stay with it during the good times and the bad. Long tenure can give you a sense of pride, but only if you choose to be loyal.
Loyalty is an underlying principle; duty is what you do every day. Check your job description -- yep, that is your duty. It is your responsibility and no one else’s. When I watched movies or TV shows about Army life, no one really liked pulling guard duty or the dreaded KP (Kitchen Patrol), but it needed to be done and done right.
“Duty is the sense of pride in accomplishing the mission as a team, but this requires recognition from the leadership,” a coworker wrote. “Workload management is key to insuring personnel have a sense of accomplishment, but providing balance to subordinates is critical. Supporting the goals and objectives of the organization is paramount, but requires management support of their subordinates.”
“As a military veteran, I fully accept the duty and responsibility of making sure that my brothers and sisters in services have access to every tool needed to fulfill their mission abroad and Stateside,” another coworker wrote.
Treat people with civility. Respect means treating others as they should be treated. Treating others with respect inspires a climate of mutual cooperation and good will. Being treated with respect instills a sense of pride and self-esteem that drives a willingness to collaborate and contribute to the common good of the organization. Respect given returns respect. Respect the position, if not the person, but that does not mean you have to put up with disrespect from a superior.
There are times when sacrifice may be necessary -- putting something else before your own interests. When we have to travel for work, it sometimes means missed dinners with loved ones, not tucking your child in at night, or missed little league ballgames.
My son once asked me, “Why are you always checking your Blackberry?”
“I have a responsibility,” I replied.
“Selfless Service: The ability to place the needs of subordinates above your own,” a coworker wrote. “The ability to mentor and develop personnel to understand the roles and responsibilities of the next higher in the chain of command. This requires management to assume a coaching style of leadership so folks will assume more responsibility without the fear of reprisal.”
I found this one difficult to describe. Define it by its opposite -- shame. I once heard someone describe it this way – “Do not do or say anything that you would not want published in the Washington Post.” (Obviously, they were from inside the DC Beltway). We are faced with ethical dilemmas all the time. Tell the truth. Do not fabricate a cover up, obfuscate or distort the truth. Do not break the rules.
Not to be confused with honor. Do the right thing for the right reasons. No matter how inviting it is to take shortcuts, don’t. In our work, we deal with laws and regulations all the time -- National Environmental Protection Act, Federal Acquisition Regulation, Small Business Act, Equal Employment Opportunity Act, Competition in Contracting Act, Davis Bacon Act, Anti-Deficiency Act, Clean Water Act, and many more. If there is a directive, policy, regulation or law, follow it. Follow it to the letter and in the right spirit.
I once ran the annual Army Ten Miler race. My training encompassed a smart diet and running on a schedule, in short, pushing myself to accomplish my goal of finishing the race with no paramedics.
But when race day arrived, I found myself running next to wounded warriors who were running on one or both artificial legs or cycling with arms only, which put my little training program to shame.
There are other examples of personal courage in our line of work. One is telling the general or the boss that even he or she has to follow that pesky regulation. Another is the many USACE civilians who have volunteered to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan, some of whom have come under fire.
So it is clear that the Army Values are not just for the Soldiers. They are values that we civilians can live by as well, and must live by if we are to pursue our federal careers with honor and integrity.