We know what it means to be fired for poor performance or illegal acts.  The third type of firing is perhaps the most troubling: values-based firing–being fired for violating the core values.  

Recently, Stanford’s faculty senate condemned a colleague, Scott Atlas, for “violating the core values of the faculty and the expectations under the Stanford Code of Conduct.”  They called Atlas an embarrassment to the institution and harmful to its reputation and academic standing.  Ouch.

Remember the Starbucks barista who typed *pig* on the label of a police officer’s coffee on Thanksgiving Day 2019?  Fired, based on values.  Recall the Central Park unleashed-dog walker who called police on an innocent birdwatcher?  Fired, based on values.  And there was the elementary teacher with a clothing-optional website her students discovered.  Fired, based on values.

Just like organizations, we have our own, personal set of core values that guide our behavior.  The end of the year is a great time for a personal performance evaluation.  Ask, “How am I doing against my values?  Would I fire myself?  Would I put myself on a performance improvement plan?  Would I give myself a bonus?”

It’s a great time to reflect on our core values.  Have our values changed a bit in 2020?  Are we letting our core values guide the most important decisions we’re making?  Something to prioritize as we shape the 2021 we want to live in.