Leadership Corner

Stand Up for Each Other: What’s Next?

June 22nd, 2018 at 2:45PM

A picture of Lenise Lago in Forest Service uniform.
Acting Associate Chief Lenise Lago

During the week of June 11, everyone in the Forest Service experienced a daylong special event called Stand Up for Each Other. The Listen and Learn sessions we participated in throughout April set the stage.

In the Stand Up sessions we talked about our core values—values like conservation and service, like safety and diversity. We talked about our Code and Commitments, and we saw videos about our anti-harassment policy and program, which were followed by opportunities for further dialogue.

Overall, it was an opportunity for some frank give and take, and I want to thank everyone in the Forest Service for joining in. Stand Up for Each Other was part of a learning journey we are taking together—a journey of changing our culture so we support each other, creating a safe, respectful and resilient workplace for each and every one of us, a workplace that supports and values people from backgrounds of all kinds.

I have heard from many of you how the day went, and I welcome your feedback. Nothing we do is ever perfect, and some of you have pointed out improvements we might have made. Others appreciated our efforts to move out boldly on this knowing it was not perfect, and recognized our commitment to changing our culture, as well as the richness of the discussions they had. Each of you has the opportunity to take a very short survey about your impressions of the event. Many of you have already taken the time to complete the survey, and I thank you for your feedback.

So far, more than 80 percent of the survey respondents have reported a favorable impression of our Code and Commitments. Survey respondents have also taken the opportunity to recommend further steps toward changing our culture. So far, the two most popular recommendations are:

  • Focusing our Leadership Development Program on changing our culture
  • Training employees on how to be an ally, including bystander intervention

We heard you, and we are taking your recommendations to heart. We are getting expert help in establishing a support structure for victims, and it will include training employees in bystander intervention and in being an ally. You can look for a training session to take place sometime this summer.

We are also building up accountability in order to create a safer, more rewarding and resilient workplace. By July, all supervisors will have a performance standard for creating a work environment of respect and recognition for people from diverse backgrounds, an environment that is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination of any kind.

This week, the Chief and I spent time with the National Leadership Council discussing what we are learning from the Stand Up for Each Other events. We all agreed that our journey toward changing our culture will require continued investments. To that end, three areas are emerging. First, we need to find ways to bring our core values and commitments to life so we actually live them in our workplace every day. Second, we need to build our “people skills,” especially if we are leaders and supervisors—skills like conflict management and emotional intelligence. Third, we need to build accountability into our performance measures to ensure we have those skills and treat everyone with dignity and respect. We need to reward a safe, respectful and resilient workplace just as much as we reward the results and outcomes of our work.

What do you think? I welcome your feedback!

As we move forward together, I ask every one of you, if you haven’t done so already, to give us your honest opinion about our Stand Up for Each Other event. The survey has all of two questions, but your answers will help us understand your experience. The questions are optional, of course, and your responses will be completely confidential. Again, you can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/StandUpEval.