Chief HR Officer Leads USAC in an Interactive Presentation on Values at Vanderbilt
Barbara Carroll, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer, along with Eric Kopstain, Vice Chancellor for Administration, addressed USAC at its September meeting to discuss values at Vanderbilt.
The mission and goals of Vanderbilt are what we do. Values cycle around how we do them.
Barbara began her presentation by stating that “the mission and goals of Vanderbilt are what we do. Values cycle around how we do them.” She asked USAC members to quickly describe some characteristics of great co-workers they’ve had, to which several replied with:
- A team player who pitches in above the call of duty
- Someone who willingly shares their knowledge
- Someone who is trustworthy
- Someone who is loyal
- Someone who doesn’t gossip or stir things up
- Someone who makes you feel valued as a colleague
During the group discussion, Barbara acknowledged how we each bring individual values to the organization to create the Vanderbilt community. In addition to individual values, every workplace has some overarching organizational values as well.
The presentation then became a facilitated interactive exercise to think about the following questions:
- What are some of the reasons why people might want to work at Vanderbilt?
- How do we reflect these values every day?
- What creates a sense of “Vandyness?”
- What about Vanderbilt do we want to support, advocate and believe?
- What values does Vanderbilt exhibit as its “best self?”
- Do the people who work here feel that our organizational values connect in everyday work life?
Members were grouped into several teams and provided with matching sets of value cards. Each of the cards contained definitions for terms such as: “power,” “efficiency,” “respect” and “loyalty.” At the conclusion of the group activity, each group reported its top five value cards. A total of 24 different terms were shared, and the most-frequently mentioned terms were highlighted. Several recurring themes emerged across the groups, including:
No matter where this exercise is completed at Vanderbilt, common recurring themes continue to emerge.
Eric Kopstain, Vice Chancellor for Administration, talked about how his division incorporates the use of goals and values. Each year, with Chancellor Zeppos, he establishes goals for himself and his division, then challenges each department leader to define goals for their own units to support the goals of the division and the overall goals of the institution. An outcome of the administrative leadership team is to determine how to accomplish these goals and objectives. “We have a sense of community here. Values are important to achieving organizational alignment.”
Eric also mentioned that, while not all organizations have the same goals and values, no matter where this exercise is completed at Vanderbilt, common recurring themes continue to emerge.
Barbara thanked the group for their thoughts and input. She noted that the University is taking a number of different approaches to thinking about and articulating its underlying values, and that this exercise with USAC will help inform that process going forward.