Editor's Note: This is the second article in a 7-part series on Army Materiel Command's enduring commitment to the Army Values as the organization celebrates its 58th birthday in August. This installment is focused on the Army Value of duty.
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Every work day, Army Soldiers and Civilians are asked to perform their duty as they take on assignments, tasks and missions that are important to their organization’s goals.
But what does it really mean to exhibit the Army Value of duty? How does it make a difference as employees accomplish their to-do lists and check off another work day finished? At the Army Materiel Command, how does duty influence the organization’s goal to provide installation, logistics and sustainment readiness in support of Army priorities?
“As an Army Value, duty extends beyond law, regulation and orders,” said AMC Human Resources Officer Tom Dimitri. “Duty means that we consistently strive to do our best and do what’s right; to fulfill our professional, legal and moral obligations; and to complete all our tasks to the best of our ability.”
While employees in the nation’s business and industry sectors are assigned to fulfill their duty – their professional obligations – during their work day, for federal employees, duty goes beyond the basic job requirements and is linked to the National Defense Strategy at the highest levels.
“Duty means accomplishing my individual and team assigned tasks,” said Sgt. Maj. Happiness Brown, who works in AMC Operations (G-3). “The AMC mission is to synchronize and integrate the Army’s total capabilities in support of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s priorities and Combatant Command requirements. It is my duty to fulfill such obligation as part of team AMC and avoid taking shortcuts that could produce a bad output or product.”
With a sense of duty also comes a sense of responsibility, Dimitri said, with employees taking ownership of their work, and supervisors taking ownership of how they lead their teams. Duty involves a level of self-awareness that employees must not only do what is right, but also stand for what is right.
“An employee who values duty realizes they have an obligation to learn from mistakes, and a commitment to grow, develop and evolve professionally,” Dimitri said. “The difficult part of duty is that employees may find themselves in a situation where they have to disobey an unlawful directive because it runs counter to government regulations, practices and values.”
Duty is vital to the outcome of a mission, especially as Soldiers and civilians are often required to define and implement tasks that lead to mission success.
“As Soldiers, our number one priority is to accomplish the mission. My fellow Soldiers and I must have the character and integrity required to accomplish any task or mission in service to the nation,” Brown said. “Most tasks are received in the absence of orders which require me and my fellow Soldiers to do what is legally, ethically and morally right even when no one is watching. We must also be proactive and take initiative to accomplish any upcoming task.”
Although duty may seem like an individual value, it is also essential in team environments where trust, reliance and esprit de corps are important to achieving the team’s purpose. The Army defines duty as being able to carry out assigned tasks and to accomplish tasks as part of a team within a complex organization of missions, tasks and responsibilities, all in constant motion.
“We need to be able to rely on our teammates to function effectively and accomplish the mission,” Dimitri said. “When we do our best – when we do our duty – we build trust within our teams, which improves the outcomes of our efforts. When we truly live the value of duty we can exceed our performance expectations and merit the trust placed in us by the Soldiers we support and the nation we serve.”
The performance of individuals and teams within an Army organization like AMC build on each other and affect the outcome of mission goals throughout the enterprise.
“All Soldiers or teams have assigned tasks to accomplish. If one Soldier or team fails to accomplish their assigned tasks, the organization fails,” Brown said. “This can affect morale in the workplace, which will have an adverse effect on the health of the organization.”
As both the Soldier creed – “I will always place the mission first” and the Civilian Corps creed – “I will always support the mission” – state, all Army employees are expected to exhibit the value of duty in the workplace. For civilians, their duty is defined by their job description, performance standards and Individual Development Plan, and re-enforced by evaluations and recognitions. Yet, the ability to perform at the level duty demands begins with personal reflection.
“Ask yourself questions and be honest with yourself. Within the constraints, am I doing what is right or what is easy? Am I cutting corners to avoid something? Am I listening to others? Get to know yourself so that you're aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and how they might impact doing your best,” Dimitri said.
How well employees perform their duty in the workplace relates directly to whether they meet or exceed the benchmark set by employee performance standards, he said. Supervisors can influence that outcome by communicating expectations; providing mentoring and training opportunities; and establishing a work environment where employees are valued and success is achievable. Co-workers also influence a sense of duty by providing feedback and encouraging each other.
“Supervisors can be a role model for their employees,” Dimitri said. “They can show their employees what the Army Value of duty looks like in practice and remind them of how their work, and the quality of their performance, makes a difference to the Solider and the nation.”
Regardless of how duty is measured, Brown said every employee has the potential to define their work and life by how they live this Army Value.
“Duty is very important to me,” Brown said. “My fellow Soldiers and I work hard on a day-to-day basis to ensure that every task and mission is accomplished. Mission success means that the organization is successful. I take duty very seriously and I am willing to do what is right regardless of how I am viewed or if I am liked.”