Questioning Value

The obvious thing to do isn’t always the right thing and the right thing to do isn’t always obvious. As we get working and busy our minds are often so focused on the task we’re doing that we forget how what we’re doing connects to adding value. For a brief time in life, I had the job of a dishwasher at a brick oven pizzeria. It was a pretty mechanical job. Sort, load or scrub, dry and stack. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I had no idea what I was doing but knew everything about the tasks I was performing.

It’s easy for all of us regardless of our station to fall into this trap. Thankfully it’s also simple for us to pull ourselves out of it. Ask yourself the question: How do your actions add value to the organization’s stakeholders?

Let’s use the dishwasher for this exercise. It’s a pretty low-level job. Probably didn’t have much impact right?

Who were the stakeholders for a dishwasher and how did I add value? Well, there’s the cooks who needed the clean pots, the wait staff who needed clean cups and plates, and the customers who wanted to eat without the worry of getting sick. OK, so that’s cooks, wait staff, and customers. That’s pretty much everyone.

Too bad I didn’t see it when I had the job. Night after night of working my brain got trapped thinking that the only place in the world was the back corner of that restaurant. I never thought of my impact because I’d gotten so focused on what I did I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Sort, load or scrub, dry and stack.

I was just doing the work, got frustrated, and quit because I didn’t see the value in the work that I was doing. If you see someone frustrated you don’t have to confront their attitude, just ask them questions that help them see the value they bring to the organization. Our society is pretty used to responding to the “what do you do question.” So, it’s not too much of a stretch to take that response and start a conversation about adding value.

So many negative feelings go away when we see how valuable our efforts truly are.

Acknowledging Value

Great leaders acknowledge the value of others. Over the years I’ve benefitted from some tremendous mentors and coworkers. In this post I’d like to propose three ways individuals across an organization can make a more positive impact during their day. All of this of course is designed to increased productivity of the individual and the team.

1. Seek out interactions. An office is a great place to be able to focus on getting work done, but it is by definition separated from others. It’s also a hard place to focus when you have to look to see who’s knocking on your door for a visit or a quick chat. Getting out of the office and having that quick chat in an employee’s space puts them more at ease, allows you to see nonverbal cues about their effort and organization. If you say you care, care enough to viist.

2. Be engaging when you’re engaging them. It’s one thing to be there, it’s another to be engaged. Bring some energy with you as you’re interacting with employees. Energy levels are contagious. In my current position I see a lot of individuals who aren’t used to be up early. I’ve found that if I can inject a positive energy level into their routine they generally respond in kind. They’re more engaged and focussed to accomplish the tasks they need to do making the process run smoother.

3. Follow up. Not everyone is good at remembering names. Remembering names is great, but it’s not everything. It’s a good idea to remember something about the conversation you’re having. If this means you need to spend a few minutes writing down notes when you get back to the office, do so. But remember something and bring that something up during a future engagement. If you’re the boss a lot of times an employee will share an idea or relate a personal or professional challenge to you. These are oportunities for you to posture yourself as a partner. Doing so will generally maximize their performance.

From my experience an employee who feels valued contributes significantly more than those who feel insignficant. These three tips are simple and don’t take too much time. I found it actually saved time by increasing productivity and reducing interruptions during the day from both me and those that I worked with.

A large part of the value I’ve learned to see in myself is built upon the value others have seen in me. Are you making the same impact as the mentors you’ve worked with?

You Matter To Me

I’ve never found the words powerful enough to tell people how much them mean to me.  

We’re often told that everyone has value.  I’m very grateful that some talented people have chosen to share this thought with such wonderful expression.   Thank you to Sara Bareilles for your amazing talent and thank you to Peter and Evynne Hollens for the wonderful rendition.  For all the wonderful people who mean so much to me.