I was visiting friends the other night, and as always, interesting conversations about life came up. My friend (we'll call him Joe) was talking about his current position at one of the large corporate chain stores.
We talked about how the company is branding themselves as a high quality leader in customer service, yet is also trying to be competitively priced. Jobs keep getting cut and they are getting spread too thin to provide the kind of customer service they are advertising. We talked about his customers, how he solves their problems, and finally after hearing inadvertently how much pride he has in job, I blurted out, "Wow they are lucky to have you! You should be totally indispensable to them!!!"
His reply? "Oh, I'm totally dispensable."
There are two types of people he explained. Those who think they are indispensable, and whine and complain how they should be getting this or that, and those who think they are dispensable, and work harder to keep their jobs. The thing is, he didn't necessary have this theory before we started the conversation, I believe he came up with it while we were talking and having organic realizations about the situation.
So although he may subconsciously be working harder if he believes he could lose his job, I have a different theory. I also believe there are two types of people: those who have pride in their work, and those who don't. Simple as that.
I think it's something that comes naturally to certain people, and those people, mixed in among the rest of their peers, should absolutely be recognized.
Some people just clock out and their work day ends there.
And that's fine- nobody asked them to do more. But Joe comes home from a long night at work, sits down to relax, and what do we talk about? His company's branding, problems he recognizes, and ways he solves those problems. He cares enough and is passionate enough about his job to continue thinking about it when he's not there. . . And perhaps he is just passionate in general.
I see it in my husband too. He comes home and we talk about how he thinks things could be different, where he sees shortcomings, and what he would do to improve them. But it pretty much ends there. In certain environments, even the best ideas disappear when they are held by someone in a "dispensable" position.
But these are exactly the kind of people someone should want working for their organization! Do you want that passion carried over to your competitor? It completely reminded me of that show Undercover Boss. I've only seen it once, but it was the episode where the Baja Fresh CEO goes under cover to work the regular positions of the company- serving food, cleaning bathrooms, and seeing how things really operate.
He finds himself among some extremely motivated and passionate employees, and of course since they don't know who he is, they are open and honest with him about what they think could use improving. He admits they have really good ideas, and he even empowers a few of them with continued education and a franchise opportunity. He sees their passion and he keeps it within his organization.
And perhaps some people act like they don't care about their jobs because they don't think anyone cares about them. (Read this post on that person) The difference in the two types of people mentioned above however, is one will work hard even if nobody is watching, and even if nobody cares.
The bottom line? You don't find an "indispensable" employee everyday, but if you look hard enough, you probably will.