Blue Monday

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, May 9, 2011

As mentioned before, Laurie Ruettimann and I presented on "Pop Culture, Politics, and HR" at last weekend's HREvolution Conference.

One of the questions that we posed to the audience was, "what would you do if you learned your employee is a birther?"  The tilt of the question was to see whether political, let alone radical, views would affect your perception of the employee's ability to get things done.  Would you trust him or her to handle a crucial negotiation or sale based on this initial fact?  The general consensus by the audience was that if the employee demonstrated an ability to defend a position with reason, and they have shown a history of good judgment otherwise, they would trust him or her to handle their business.   Also impacting the decision was an employee's sales record.

So, with that as prologue, is there a fact you could learn about an employee or colleague that would cause you to pull a 180 on your perception of him or her?  Member of the John Birch Society?  KKK?  Loves the song "Cotton Eyed Joe" or Rick Astley?

What have you?


I think this is why "core values" are important for every organization, and why every organization should think long and hard about the core values they choose.

Every employer I've ever had has established and enforced a short list of core values, and employees were told that they were expected to live the company values so long as they were employed by the organization, even on their "free time" away from the office.

And so, if "Respect for Others" (for example) was a core value of your organization, you could summarily dismiss someone who is a known member of the KKK with no ethical dilemma whatsoever. After all, you made the organization's core values clear during the hiring process, and the employee both consented and failed to renounce his/her association with the Ku Klux Klan.

Of course, this doesn't work if you don't enforce the core values across the board, up to and including firing the workplace bully who rakes in the cash, for the exact same reason. But I'd much rather know that I work for an organization that establishes, enforces, and LIVES BY a set of clearly communicated values than one who doesn't - and I bet lots of really talented workers out there feel the same.

by Eric Peterson on May 9, 2011 at 10:03 AM. #

Eric - Thanks for the heartfelt and true comments. As always it is easier to claim values and harder to carry them out.

by Matthew Stollak on May 11, 2011 at 7:02 PM. #

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