Why will Dr. Ronny L. Jackson fail to be confirmed as the head of the Veterans Affairs Department? As Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear have reported in The New York Times, President Trump’s nominee to lead the V.A. “oversaw a hostile work environment as the White House doctor, allowed the overprescribing of drugs and possibly drank on the job.”
Ensure That Your Company’s Values Statement Is Easy For The World To Find
Go to your website, and if it takes you more than ten seconds to find a list of your company’s values, you have some work to do.
I went to the website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to see if the organization’s values were clearly presented. No dice. I had to type “values” into the search engine and then click on a link to find a list of their core values:
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Integrity: Act with high moral principle. Adhere to the highest professional standards. Maintain the trust and confidence of all with whom I engage.
Commitment: Work diligently to serve Veterans and other beneficiaries. Be driven by an earnest belief in VA’s mission. Fulfill my individual responsibilities and organizational responsibilities.
Advocacy: Be truly Veteran-centric by identifying, fully considering, and appropriately advancing the interests of Veterans and other beneficiaries.
Respect: Treat all those I serve and with whom I work with dignity and respect. Show respect to earn it.
Excellence: Strive for the highest quality and continuous improvement. Be thoughtful and decisive in leadership, accountable for my actions, willing to admit mistakes, and rigorous in correcting them.
What message does it send to the public that the V.A.’s values are buried deep within the organization’s website? The message is, “These things aren’t that important.” If they were, they’d be above the fold on the home page for all the world to see.
Don’t make that mistake in your own organization.
Refer To Your Values Throughout Your Job Descriptions
The Department of Veterans Affairs lists lots of jobs all over the country, and those descriptions are a perfect example of missing the forest for the trees. Take a look at this one for Medical Administration Officer in Richmond, Virginia. At a bloated 1,354 words, I’ve read Russian novels shorter than this. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.)
The job description is an exhaustive and exhausting list of every possible technical qualification you need to run a complex, state-of-the-art medical center, but there is not a single reference to the values that the Department claims are so important. This makes no sense. Would it matter if the person running the hospital where your mother or father is receiving life-sustaining treatment is dishonest and irresponsible, even if he or she is highly skilled and deeply knowledgeable?
Of course it matters. That’s why references to the V.A.’s values should be integrated into the job description for this position and for all others too.
Don’t you want to increase the likelihood that the people who put themselves forward as job candidates at your company will embody its core values? You can do that by making it clear that you hire for character as well as competence, and that means checking (and, most likely, rewriting) every job description you post.
Toward A Values-Based Job Description
Suppose your company wants to hire a new Director of Compliance. Here’s how you might introduce a notice for this position:
We are looking for a highly knowledge and skilled Director of Compliance who is deeply committed to our company’s values of honesty, accountability, fairness and humility. We expect you to embody these values in your work every day. All employees must walk the talk, but it is of particular importance in compliance, because your effectiveness in the role depends upon your evincing the very values that you seek to uphold in your work for us.
There is much more to say, of course, and I will do so in forthcoming columns. For now, your assignment is to:
• Go to the home page of your company’s website
• Make sure your company’s values statement is easily found there
• Review your job descriptions and begin discussing how you can incorporate references to your company’s values in those notices
If you choose not to do any or all of these things, you will increase the risk of having a Ronny L. Jackson fiasco on your hands. That mess will hard to clean up, but you can prevent it from happening if you have the will to do so.
Get to work!