Gallup research tells us that there is a certain percentage of any work force that will remain “disengaged.” What a great word – DISENGAGED.
I still recall reading a license plate on the front of a vehicle in Western PA which opined, “I LOVE PAYDAYS, VACATIONS, WEEKENDS.” Some quick mental calculations told me that the driver must HATE most of their existence!
There are, of course, people out there who will never be happy unless they are miserable. While I was discussing this phenomenon in training with a company, one of the attendees raised his hand in the middle of the presentation to “give his two cents.” Anyone who has trained knows that the raised hand can go one of two ways – very badly or very well! Breathing a silent prayer, I acknowledged the gentleman’s presence and gave him the floor.
I am happy to report it went well, and this is why: he shared THE STORY OF SMITTY.
Smitty was a long term employee of the company. Smitty was also a pretty miserable person. Smitty wore a perpetual scowl, seemed to be trying to decide between staying on the job or having root canal without Novocain. His interaction with his co-workers was consistently negative. If queried as to what he liked about work, his response would probably be something like “Payday, lunch and leaving.” That’s assuming he answered at all!
Smitty’s job, by the way, was working in The Pit. I never found out exactly what that involved, but it clearly did not sound good.
One day, his supervisor decided to ask, “Hey, Smitty, do you like working in The Pit?”
“Nah,” said Smitty with his typical venom-laced voice, “I HATE it!”
Deciding to wade in deeper, his supervisor then asked, “Well, what would you LIKE to do?”
Smitty responded immediately, “I’d like to work in Banding” (Once again, I really did not know what this entailed, but clearly Smitty preferred it to The Pit).
The result of this exchange was that the supervisor was eventually able to transfer Smitty to Banding. When this happened, something AMAZING took place!
Smitty became human! He actually smiled on occasion, working more effectively with his co-workers and becoming more productive.
Here is the Big Question: Whose fault was it that Smitty was so miserable for so long? The supervisor or Smitty?
And the Big Answer: BOTH!
To quote from two companion books by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans (Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em and Love It, Don’t Leave It, my reviews on Shelfari, of course), “ASK!”
Smitty should have thought of asking if there were any other positions that he felt he could enjoy/do better at (often these two factors work together), and the supervisor should have checked much sooner on Smitty’s interests and skills. To paraphrase a favorite author of mine, Marcus Buckingham (formerly of Gallup), “Companies should stop trying to make people what they aren’t and use them for what they are.”
By the way, so you do not consider me to be a starry-eyed idealist, I realize that EVERY position will require the employee to perform some tasks they would rather give up. I like to call this “The Grown-up Stuff.” I don’t want to do it, but I have to because they told me to. Welcome to Life.
However, by asking about and considering the employee’s key interests, satisfiers and skills we can come as close as possible to eliminating that favorite term for Wednesday touted by morning DJ’s – HUMP DAY!
I must take issue with the 80’s rock group Loverboy – Not “Everybody’s working for the weekend!”