Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article in a 7-part series on Army Materiel Command’s enduring commitment to the Army Values. This installment is focused on the Army Value of selfless service.
In a nation founded on individual rights, the Army Value of selfless service sets the standard of how those rights co-exist alongside the need for the betterment of society as whole.
Army Materiel Command employees recognize August as the organization’s birth month, making it a good time to look at how the Army Values impact the workplace and the readiness mission. AMC’s success is ensured when the decisions made and actions taken in the workplace are viewed in terms of the principles behind the value of selfless service – putting the welfare of the nation, the Army and subordinates before individual wellbeing.
“Selfless service is the value of looking beyond yourself,” said AMC Chaplain (Col.) Mike Klein. “It’s recognizing that it’s not all about me, that there’s a bigger picture here with other key stakeholders. It’s recognizing you are one component in the grand scheme of things.”
Practicing the value of selfless service requires employees to put aside their own self-interests to commit to what is needed for their team or organization to reach mission success. For an Army employee, selfless service is a product of the patriotism and pride they have in their nation and the appreciation they have for Soldiers, said AMC Senior Human Resources Specialist Sarita Garrison.
“This pride influences the employee who self-sacrifices to ensure the mission is completed. It validates our loyalty to the American Soldiers who fight for our nation’s freedom,” she said.
Selfless service fits into an employee’s work life much like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, Klein said.
“If we want to look at what an individual employee brings to the fight, we can look at them as a single piece in a huge puzzle. By itself, the piece doesn’t look very significant. But, when you are putting that puzzle together and you are missing a single piece, that one piece becomes critical and essential,” Klein said. “The capacity of every employee is a critical and essential piece to the whole.”
The selfless service value carries with it the responsibility for supervisors and leaders to consider employee well-being and capability as it relates to mission success.
“As a leader, selfless service requires me to make the Army mission my top priority and put others’ needs before my own,” said Tara Ackeret, AMC’s chief of Civilian Human Resources Policy and Programs Division. “To do this, I consider my employees’ personal, career and developmental needs before my own, and endeavor to support those needs.”
Even though selfless service is defined by sacrificing individual goals for the betterment of the organization, Klein said it’s an Army Value that requires a look internally, to self-reflect on how an individual wants to contribute or how they want to make a difference.
“There is a constant assessment process with selfless service because the organization and the needs of the organization are always changing,” he said. “In this COVID-19 environment, we have seen tremendous change that brings out both the best and the worst in people. Our changing environment requires us to do a perpetual self-evaluation of what is important to us as individuals. It’s a matter of heart. Are we all in or not?”
Self-reflection can be augmented in the workplace by honest feedback from co-workers.
“Every one of us needs to look into the mirror and really see ourselves in light of our conduct and behavior,” he said. “If possible, we should surround ourselves with mirrors – people who know us and who are honest with us, and who will reflect back to us the things we don’t see. They are our accountability partners.”
Selfless service, like the other Army values, is the foundation for the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program – known as DPMAP – used by civilians. The same is true for Soldier evaluation forms.
“Each employee’s element – what they are going to do in the work day – is linked to the Army Values, and to Department of Defense, Army and AMC priorities and goals,” said Garrison, who is the AMC DPMAP program manager. “This linkage is important to show how employee contributions directly impact the organization’s values, goals and priorities.”
Supervisors who exhibit selfless service in their own actions have the ability to empower and energize their employees, Klein said. Their example can also leave a lasting impression.
“When employees are feeling discouraged or worn out from work demands, a supervisor committed to selfless service has the ability to help them get over the hardship,” he said. “Somewhere, some way, maybe that supervisor had an influence that helped the employee succeed.”
Like the other Army values, selfless service has an impact on the work environment.
“As employees witness selfless service in action – supervisors taking care of employees and putting their needs first – it builds mutual trust between employees and their leaders,” Ackeret said.
In the book “The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization” by John C. Maxwell, there is a quote – “tend to the people, and they will tend to the business” – that defines selfless service and its impact, Ackeret said.
“By taking care of the people under our leadership – by giving our time, mentorship and compassion – they will be ready and willing to work together to meet challenging mission requirements,” she said.