Every organization has certain jobs that must be done and done well for organizational success.
Some of these jobs are dirty. Some are difficult. Some jobs might even be dangerous.
All are necessary.
These types of jobs came to mind on the last stop of our recent vacation in Italy.
We began our trip in Rome, spent time in Tuscany, and finished our vacation in Milan. Our hotel in Milan was located one block away from the Duomo di Milano, a towering cathedral of French Gothic and Renaissance architecture that was begun in 1386 and today is the center of this thriving city of 7 million people.
Janet and I were admiring the cathedral and, as I got closer, I saw the gargoyles.
Looks Can be Deceiving
There are 96 gargoyles on the Duomo di Milano and their purpose might surprise you.
The gargoyles are not there to scare people. On the contrary, each gargoyle does a necessary job: a built-in spout in each gargoyle conveys water from the roof, through the gargoyle’s mouth and away from the cathedral, thereby preventing rainwater from running down the exterior walls of the cathedral and eroding the mortar between the marble.
The term originates from the French gargouille, which in English translates as “gullet” or “throat.” Think of the gargoyle the next time you’re gargling.
So the bigger the building, the more gargoyles are required to divide the flow of rainwater off the roof to minimize the potential damage from a rainstorm.
The Best Job They’ve Ever Had
Just as the gargoyles have a specific job to perform, so, too, does every one of our employees. Some jobs are high-profile, others are not. All are necessary to the success of the organization.
Each of the leaders I work with believes one of their two most important jobs is to cast a vision for the company that will inspire the entire workforce. The leaders’ second job is to help their colleagues understand the work they do is integral to the overall success of the organization and, ultimately, the achievement of the vision.
I’ve known Rick Kimbrell for seven years and was proud to be there when he launched StartKleen in 2009.
StartKleen’s work is difficult. The company cleans meat production facilities to ensure these plants meet USDA and OSHA requirements. Most of the work is performed by hundreds of people working night shifts at locations all over the Southwest.
Rick knew when he started the company that he only wanted to work with great people who would pour themselves into their jobs.
Rick’s passion for his work, his commitment to deliver on what he promises, and his fairness in dealing with his employees means there are no thankless jobs and plenty of praise, pride and profits for those who perform.
“My job,” Rick once told me, “is to make this the best job my employees have ever had.”
To get the most from everyone on your team—especially those who toil in tough jobs—ask yourself:
- Have I been clear about our organization’s purpose beyond making money?
- Does our vision focus only on numbers, or does it give our people something to cheer for?
- Have we connected the work each person is doing to the organization’s overall vision for success?
- When was the last time I walked around the organization, talking with and thanking people two or three levels below my direct reports?
Every organization has tough jobs. Those jobs needn’t be thankless.
How do you let your employees know you appreciate their unique contributions to your organization?