How important is your job? Sometimes, perspective helps us answer that question. In TLNT, Mel Kleiman asked just that, observing:
“If the assistant manager does not show up and open the doors, no one gets in. If the receptionist does not answer the phone, no one gets to see the doctor. If the dishwasher doesn’t wash the dishes, the food cannot be served. If the president of the organization doesn’t show up for a week, will any of your customers know the difference?”
Of course, executives are critical to setting strategy and myriad other duties necessary for company success, but the bigger lesson here is in noticing and celebrating those in less visible roles who perform critical functions for success.
Compensation can be deceptive as a marker of how valuable your job is to keeping the wheels of industry turning. Those of us not paid at the CEO level still play an important and fundamental role in delivering to the company mission. That’s why recognition is very powerful at any level. Regardless of role and salary, we all need validation that our work is having positive impact and is of importance in achieving the greater goal. The result - every employee is more connected to the work.
Here’s an example from the Mayo Clinic:
“The Mayo Clinic builds its mission around serving the patients. They see all the employees as operating with the same value that “the needs of the patient come first.” All employees regard the wellness of the patient as the top priority, even among employees with no patient contact. One study participant from the Mayo Clinic described an anecdote that took place when a documentary team was filming a series titled ‘Driving towards zero medical mistakes.’ The camera crew stepped into a hospital room as a janitor was cleaning it. The journalist casually asked the janitor off-camera if he was cleaning the room for the next patient. The janitor replied ‘No – I’m saving people’s lives.’
“The journalist probed into the janitor’s poetic reply, and the janitor explained that one of the biggest dangers in healthcare facilities is bacteria and unsanitary conditions. He added that unsanitary conditions may mean the difference between life and death for a patient, and this is why he felt as responsible for saving lives as ER doctors and first responders. This is a prime example of feeling involved in the mission of the organization and making significant contributions to its success.”
An outside-of-the-workplace example comes from David Zinger, an early advocate and proponent of the importance of driving employee engagement (not just satisfaction) in the workplace. He is now engaged in a “year of recognition project” with the goal of “recognizing and appreciating others for who they are and what they do.” See below the message posted by David’s son on this project:
Bring that back into the workplace and think how quickly your workspace would become intolerable if the trash was not emptied. Sometimes the least visible people are the most valuable to our days running smoothly.
Who are the unseen in your workplace? What can you do to appreciate them and their efforts?
As Globoforce’s Head of Strategic Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. His articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin, Montreal and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @globoforce.