Most employers have experienced the pains of losing a key team player. Many however, may not have realized how key the player was until the person is gone. My experience has taught me, the most common reason employees leave their jobs is because they don’t feel valued for what they bring to the organization. It’s not uncommon for managers to become disconnected from frontline workers as they engage in the important work of running the organization. However, it’s important to realize that the role of running the organization includes understanding and reinforcing the value of every role. When higher ups remain vigilant to understanding and appreciating how every role impacts the overall success of the business, they set clearer expectations, provide more resources, and support and hold employees more accountable. They can intervene as problems arise, and are not left with a gaping hole in the organization when a seemingly unimportant team player leaves.
I entered the boardroom in an industrial setting to prepare for a meeting with senior management, I was met by a man wiping off the boardroom tables. He looked up at me and apologized for his presence. He referred to himself as ‘just a cleaning staff’ and said he'll be out of my way soon. I engaged the man in conversation and thanked him for preparing the room for the important meeting. I asked him to consider how the work he was doing would facilitate the work that we had to do in that room. I shared that by removing the dust from the tables, TV, and taking out the garbage from the earlier lunch meeting, he was ensuring that we had what we needed to get our job done. I told him that he played a very important role in the overall success of the business. He thanked me for the discussion and had never dared to think that he had an impact on the business’s success. He left smiling, and I dare say that he was more engaged and more productive in his role at least for the remainder of that shift.Many tend to underestimate the value of a clean workspace and thus undervalue the role played by cleaning staff. Consider this story, and imagine what your workspace might look like without them or why you might not be getting top quality work out of them. Consider which employees in your organization might feel like ‘just a…’. Take the time to consider how not having this role would impact the organization. When you realize the value of every role, you set the stage for success.
When we value a role, we take the time to clearly define the role and ensure that the person in the role understands what needs to get done, by when, and has the ability to achieve the results.
When we value a role, we take more care to ensure that the people in the role have the time and resources to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. We provide training and support, we help them overcome roadblocks, and allow more time or more money or purchase new tools to ensure the role can be successfully accomplished.
When we value a role, we don’t let people get away with not doing a good job. When we don’t hold people accountable, we devalue the impact of the role. We give people the message that the organization can succeed without them and thus the organization starts to have to succeed without them because the employee becomes disengaged and fails to produce at the expected level. Eventually, this employee is likely to leave or get fired, and we can often be surprised by the hole this leaves in the organization.
Don’t be caught off guard when a seemingly unimportant role is vacated. Recognize that any empty position has a negative impact on the organization. Set aside some time to ensure that the expectations for these roles are clear, that the employees have the tools, resources and knowledge to get the job done and that their supervisors are holding them accountable to their part in the success of the organization. This will pay off greatly in both the short and long term.