There’s things we are good at, things we are great at, and there are things that we get excited and enthused about. If we’re lucky, the things we’re enthusiastic about are also things we’re great at. In the workplace, if we’re fortunate, we land in a job where our boss recognizes and appreciates the importance of these things we are great at and love doing, and finds a way to put us in a position to use these talents.
This isn’t always the case though is it? I mean there are some Supervisors who fail to appreciate the talents their employees have. You may have actually experienced someone who in their wisdom, wanted those of their team to be interchangeable, and therefore rotated their staff around, making sure everyone did a little of everything. As a consequence of this thinking, many employees on a given team tend to grumble; frustrated that what they’d like to be doing most isn’t what they do, and the people doing whatever that is are a little jealous that you’re doing what they’d love to do too.
Now I get the interchangeable dream. When you know more than one job, this cross-training makes it far easier to shore up needs as they arise. Be it short or long-term absences or an increased demand for people performing a certain function, this keeps things running at a high degree of efficiency. The Supervisor who uses this thinking puts more emphasis on having a team of equally skilled employees to draw on than they do on assessing the individual preferences of their staff.
However, consider that an employee who performs work they love doing and does a great job as a result, can transform a job into a passionate career. Now multiply that single person who loves what they do right across your team, and suddenly you’ve got a force to be reckoned with! When people love what they do and they perform great works, they come to work happier, they invest more in their time while there, attendance improves dramatically, and the culture of the workplace becomes dynamic.
I believe therefore, that this way of going about managing human capital in the workplace is a better model. It becomes critical for a Supervisor to get to know their employees; to learn what they are good at, what they excel at, and where their passions are. I feel there are too many Supervisors who make assumptions about those on their teams solely through work performance statistics and casual observations. Investing in people by having regular conversations to learn where their interests and passions are is a great way to learn about the people you are responsible for. And it follows that if those under a Supervisor’s watch collectively perform at a high level of efficiency because they are doing work they love and doing it well, that Supervisor in turn is going to be recognized by their own Supervisor for achieving results. We now have the win-win; the employees win, the Supervisor wins, the company wins and most importantly, the customer or consumer wins.
In reality, it doesn’t always follow that the above is what we experience though. There are those in Management positions who abuse their power. They may be disgruntled themselves and go out of their way to break the spirit of the great worker they see emerging, by removing them from doing what they obviously enjoy doing and relocating them to some other task they perceive will be less enjoyable. This abuse of power is exactly that; while they explain their move by saying things like it will help the individual grow, become more valuable or learn a new skill.
This isn’t the case of someone being in a rut and plateauing in the workplace who could benefit from a shot of stimulation. No, this could be the case of an unhappy boss, jealous of the worker who arrives happy, works happy and leaves happy. It’s also putting their own needs above the organization they both work with. Sure it’s petty, but many a Supervisor is gainfully employed doing exactly this. Maybe you’re working for one now.
Ah but the best Supervisors are the ones who invest in the people they supervise. You know, they listen, they observe, they go out of their way to get to know the people on their teams; what makes them happiest, where they can be put in positions to excel and succeed. This takes some effort on the part of the person to do these things on top of their other tasks. The investment in this process however creates a better culture. People feel they are being listened to, accommodated where possible and they appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Supervisor. And because we evolve, our needs and wants change, this should be an ongoing, living practice rather than a one-time conversation.
When you do work you love, and that work is something you do really well, you show more pride in your accomplishments, you’re a better ambassador for your organization and you also pull harder for the person who’s given you this opportunity.
As an employee, it’s important to communicate your preferences to your boss and do work that motivates and stimulates so you become a highly valued employee.
If you can’t find work you love and you’re good at? Move on. Your good mental health is at stake.