At a party a few weeks back, I had the chance to catch up with a friend I’ve known since elementary school; he happens to be married to another friend I’ve known nearly as long.
To give you some background, my friend is a master puppeteer who is the son of a dance teacher and a professional magician/artist/caricaturist.
One of his sisters is a photographer/flight attendant; the other is a morning radio personality and former cruise ship entertainer. Together, the whole family had a successful – and entertaining – run on Family Feud a few years back.
In short, this is a person cut from unusually outgoing, creative cloth.
Over the years, he has managed to parlay his unique blend of strengths into a successful career at an international financial services corporation.
He’s been happy there for the most part – until recently, when he realized his job had somehow shifted away from employee training to spreadsheet analysis. And you can’t park a born people-person behind a computer screen and expect him to stay happy for very long.
He spoke with his boss, who quickly moved him back to the hands-on training work he loves – and at which he excels. He and his team have subsequently won several company awards.
When you put people in the right roles, it’s amazing how well they flourish. Conversely, the most talented, enthusiastic workers in the world can quickly get discouraged and beaten down when they’re placed in the wrong jobs. Unfortunately, many of them won’t speak up like my friend did – they’ll just quit instead.
Could this be happening at your child care center?
Are your best teachers working with the right teams, the right ages, and in the right roles? Someone who loves infants won’t be at her best, or happiest, in your preschool room (and vice versa). And someone who doesn’t even have a computer at home probably isn’t the best person to be managing your center’s social media efforts.
Ironically, your highly talented employees are the most at risk for these sorts of mismatches because they tend to be good at a lot of different things – and they are generally happy to pitch in as needed.
But all of us have just a few specific sweet spots where our passions truly mesh with our skills. The farther away we get from this magical intersection, the less productive and happy we are.
You’re not going to be able to put everyone in the perfect job all the time – no employer can. But the very best employers work constantly to ensure the best possible fits, especially for the star employees they don’t want to lose:
- They keep the lines of communication open
- They ask, in so many words, if people are happy with their jobs – and they truly listen to the answers
- They create brand-new opportunities for the right people
- They focus on the nature of the work being done rather than the constraints of a given job title
- They look at employees as individuals, with unique strengths, skills, and preferences
- They notice if people seem to lose their sparkle and start dragging through their days
- They look at an employee’s personal career path and goals rather than simply looking at what the employee can bring to the center
Bottom line? Don’t bury the puppeteer beneath a pile of spreadsheets.
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Note: There will be no new post next week due to the Memorial Day holiday here in the U.S. We’ll see you back here on Thursday, June 4.