Oswald Letter

Every single employee is essential to your success

Business People Team Applauding Achievement Conceptby Dan Oswald

“Will it really make a difference?”

“Will anyone care whether I do it or not?”

“Who would notice if I didn’t show up?”

These are questions that aren’t unfamiliar in the hallways and break rooms of our businesses. They are being whispered (or screamed in frustration) by employees who are questioning the impact they have on the results of the company.

Everyone wants to be relevant. Everyone wants to make a difference. Everyone wants to know they matter. And since most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work, we want to be relevant at work. We want to make a difference at work. We want to know we matter at work.

As a leader, it’s your job to make sure your people understand their relevance. It’s critical that you convey to your people how they make a difference each and every day at work. It’s up to you to make sure they know they matter.

Sometimes what people do at work becomes so routine that it loses its significance to them. It’s your job to give it that significance—to remind them why their job is important.

Let’s consider the receptionist at a company. Ask him what he does, and he may downplay the significance of his job. “Well, I just answer the phone and greet people as they enter the building. Nothing very important.”

The receptionist is focused on the tasks he does every day, and they might seem pretty routine. He picks up the phone when it rings, big deal. But what he does is much more important than that. A leader recognizes the importance of every job and makes sure the person doing it does as well.

In this case, the receptionist is the gateway to the organization. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The receptionist is his company’s first impression for many people. Whether it’s his voice they hear when they call the company or his face they see when they walk in the door, he “is” the company in those few crucial seconds.

If he understands the significance of his role and how it can affect the business, it will likely change how he approaches his job. If he is allowed to believe that his work is insignificant, then it’s likely he’ll act that way and won’t be effective in what he does. Imagine being greeted by a receptionist who believes what he does makes no difference, that it really doesn’t matter.

Historian Howard Zinn once said, “If people could see that change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.” It’s your job as a leader to make sure that people see how important those tiny acts are to the success of your business.

I’ve had people ask me what is the one thing that leads to success in business. I always struggle with the question. Maybe if I knew the answer I’d be more successful! But in the end, I don’t believe there’s one thing that leads to success in business. I believe success comes from doing millions of little things that seem insignificant and doing them consistently well. Those seemingly unimportant acts add up to critical contributions that make the difference between success and failure.

But if we overlook the little things, if we fail to see their significance, then we will not succeed. So I encourage you to make sure everyone on your team knows the importance of the work they do each and every day. Don’t let them lose sight of how they contribute to the overall success of the business, and it’s likely you’ll experience much more of it!

2 thoughts on “Every single employee is essential to your success”

  1. Great Job,
    One of the most important part of my resume has always been to remember that it takes a team to be successful. Teams win Super Bowls, become Olympic champions and yes, baseball games. I am 75 plus, worked as a minority on the U S Senate Banking Committee beginning in 1972. Very few of us there during those years. Started as a clerk, ended my career at the U S Senate as a Staff Assistant. I always made myself feel like a part of the entire staff, working closely with the Counsels, Administrative Assistants, Constituent Services and even the Senators. Because of that team attitude, I was accepted, respected and given responsibilities that were clearly cushions and support for the mission of that legislative body. At 75, a retiree and senior, I am still working. I am the receptionist and am always aware that I am one of the vey first staff persons that callers and visitors see/meet. It is hard at times because individuals, including co workers who assume that a receptionist does not have other skills,
    nor has taken the time to learn the mission of an agency/organization.

    What I have learned over the years is that it comes from the top, if the Managers respect all of the employees and include them in transparent staff meetings and daily operations, while being informative regarding the basics/technical aspects of what is happening in the organization, then that business has a good chance of being successful.

    Again good work. Hope they are listening.

  2. Sarah,

    Thank you for the kinds words and encouragement, as well as sharing your experience. It sounds like you’ve had a very interesting and fulfilling career.



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