Ban All “Just A” Jobs!

Abundance Be Abundant Contribution Management

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Key Point: Every role and job in every organization is vital. There is no room for what I call “just a” type jobs. Of course, some jobs pay better than others for a variety of reasons. However, from a company’s “brand” perspective, every job counts big time.

Many of my readers know I work in the financial services sector. In our retail business, we have a frontline customer-facing position called a CSR (Customer Service Rep). When we first held Culture Days (our on-boarding event for new hires), as people introduced themselves, some might say, “I’m JUST a CSR.” As the exec sponsor and facilitator, I would politely intervene; asking the CSR to take out “just a.” Why? This position creates the brand impression for our company due to the number of customers they touch each day and every minute. It is an essential and vital role! You and I see this at other workplaces daily. For example: The coffee barista, bus driver, receptionist, call center person, flight attendant, waiter, etc. Regardless of what companies advertise as their brand, the real brand “smell test” starts when we interact with the frontline customer-facing folks. How could we afford to have anyone of these people see himself or herself in “just a” job?

I remember when I first became the Chief People Officer of the company in 2012, and attended one our prescheduled on-boarding sessions. I sat down at a random table for lunch, and asked people why they joined the company. The very first response came from a CSR and it was, “my mom wanted me out of the house.” “Holy cow” is the politest response that immediately came to mind. I had to squeeze hard to keep my inner voice under control. If this is how we recruit for our customer facing positions, we had huge work to do. And we did. As a result, we are at a much better and different spot today. Every role is vital, and direct customer-facing ones, even more so.

Character Moves:

  1. As a leader, it is your job to make sure every role is a vital one based on the impact to customers and other teammates. Ban “just a” jobs. Help every person in every role connect to the organization’s purpose.
  2. As a team member, you also have a responsibility to connect to your company’s purpose and to act as if you matter… Because you do. Think big. Be big. Do not “mail it in,” as the saying goes. 
  3. Have the highest standards of recruiting for every position including “dishwasher.” Do not let anyone in just to fill for “just a” job. Unless, of course, you do not care about your brand.

No “just a’s” in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I’m sure some Millennials might be told by peers or even society that their position is “just a” job. You can see how that’d be an easy mindset to trap yourself in, especially if you’re still searching for a position that fully utilizes your earned skillsets, or find yourself between jobs and needing to pay bills with work you’re overqualified for. But, I suppose that’s when you have to lend a nice middle-finger to anyone who tries to knock you down a peg, and believe that anything you do that (legally) keeps the lights on is something to find pride in.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Leaders That Are Takers Suck

Be Respectful Contribution Management Respect

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Key Point: Some leaders are just lousy at sharing winning situations. And the higher they get in terms of position, the more scarce-minded they can become. These same leaders are often first class at laying blame at your feet if things aren’t going well. Or, they like to play it both ways; there to confirm how they were behind you if you win, but ready to abandon you if things go wrong. That strategy is often part of what’s helped them survive corporate politics. Ultimately, if someone is too “successful,” they need to show who’s boss. They can even become petty when they feel threatened, and will put you down in subtle or not so subtle ways. They have to be “alpha.”

The leaders I admire most and genuinely inspire me, generously give and share recognition for winning situations and ideas. They pay attention to catalysts; people who spark an idea that becomes a big thing. They understand that success has many authors, while failure is orphaned. And, who steps up to accept team or individual failure? It’s the strong and giving leader. They have the confidence to accept full responsibility, and give their teams or individuals necessary air cover. It’s leaders like that who become revered. Why? Because you can’t B.S. the troops. The team sees all and knows who contributes what. And they love transparent, authentic, genuine people in charge. Scarce-minded leaders often unknowingly become addicted to adulation and counter intuitively seem to become more and more convinced that their glorified success is almost exclusively of their own self-made brilliance. Their ego starts believing in their “press release.” Knowingly or unknowingly, they surround themselves with “yes people” and “adoring fans.” They also do not realize it’s the beginning of their demise. 

In your career, recognize that often the depth and specifics of your contributions will go unnoticed and/or be under appreciated. Even though you deserve “credit,” or at least a tip of the hat acknowledgement, it may not come. In fact, historians may rewrite the story of what really happened in ways that fully underrepresent the value you bring. As hard as this is to accept, it is likely to happen more than once. How you reframe these circumstances is very important. If not, it is easy to feel under appreciated, and eventually, even bitter.

Character Moves: 

  1. The most important validation of your contribution has to mostly come from you. Be honest and generous with yourself. Celebrate your many wins. Try not to be too disappointed when others swoop in to take or leverage your ideas as their own. You (and most often, the important people around you) know very well the contribution you’ve made. Relish that. 
  2. Be known as a generous giver and person who expands and shares the slices of the pie. Cover hard for your team if you happen to have a screw up. You and they, as I often note are, “very much worth it.”

No takers in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I love the honesty in this. It’s not only ok that acknowledgement will often not come. For me, it’s very ok. You know what feels better than a “good job” from the big boss? Looking at your equals and knowing they know darn well who’s performing, who’s not, and then moving forward to get better and accomplish more. If we want to get “really Millennial” about this, how about this analogy? No one’s thrilled with the person who takes a gym selfie and posts it online for “likes.” But everyone is encouraged to appreciate their own results and have enough confidence to realize people notice, even if no one says anything.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Drinking Out of the Cup!

Abundance Be Abundant Contribution Team

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Key Point: Winning as a team is intoxicating. Why? Because teams WIN as the playbook or “system” connects all members and departments in an exponentially better way. Great teams, of course, do include superb individual contributions. It’s clear some people have larger roles and play bigger parts in the journey. However, in superb team-based organizations, no “one,” or select few can win on their own. To really be victorious, every part of the system contributes. Typically, one person is selected to pick up the “prize,” yet in truly great organizations, everyone is recognized for the vital roles they play. 

I love hockey, and the metaphor attached to winning the National Hockey League’s ultimate championship, the Stanley Cup. When the winning team prevails, the Cup is hoisted up over the head of EACH player and eventually every other person professionally attached to the organization. This includes the sales people, ticket folks, operations, marketing, accounting, receptionists, ushers, and everyone else who makes the entire system work. And of course, tradition involves drinking some celebratory bubbly beverage out of that very trophy. Winning teams celebrate hard too. 

This week, our company was recognized by Great Place to Work as the No. 2 company in all of Canada. This is quite remarkable for a 5,000 person, boutique financial institution dedicated to serving the province of Alberta. Other outside sources rate us as one of the best companies in North America. We have much to do to get EVEN BETTER. In fact, we won’t be satisfied until we are continuously recognized as the best company in the world. While we aspire to even higher levels, we are a WINNING organization. And just like Stanley Cup champs, it takes the entire system working in full harmony to get the W. It also takes years and intentional development of EVERY part of the institution to achieve sustainable momentum as a whole. It is never just one person, one department, one product or “one” of anything. That’s what differentiates winning teams from the others. I am always amused when other organizations try to copy one or two things. It is never that simple. Winning takes every thing, every person, every detail, every nuance meshed into exceptional performance driven by a higher purpose.

I want to recognize every winning person and process at ATB and invite all to hoist the cup high. We achieve our greatness together. This includes all the people who have built our culture over the past 80 years, and the ones that will continue the legacy after our current leadership is gone. I particularly want to note the people who do all the heavy lifting behind the scenes; often unnoticed. You know who you are. Thank you. 

Character Moves:

  1. Determine where you are in building or being part of a championship team. It takes a methodical and relentless approach to make every part of the system better at the same time. This strategy takes courage and will be criticized by people who think it’s too hard, too much, too chaotic, too ambitious, and/or too big. They will fight to keep you perpetually mediocre. I detest this attitude. Don’t be one of those folks!
  1. Having a winning mindset includes a growth mindset. When you embrace this perspective, you can’t stand just being “good enough.” You hate sameness. You are abundant in spirit and pull/push the entire system forward. You are a winner. I want to work with YOU. 
  1. I apply an eight point system/framework as a guide to team/organization greatness. It is simple to describe, and very hard to execute on. Send me an email to lgrubis@gmail.com and I’d be happy to share it with you. I challenge you to execute on it and unseat us as the best company to work for in the universe. The more winning teams, the better for all. 

No. 1 in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: First and foremost, congratulations to everyone at ATB! As Millennials, we have to imagine ourselves as the rookies, the newly drafted… For most of us, we probably aren’t “first rounder” star players either. But, if we sit back and rely on the one or two all stars to get it all done for us, then we’ll never be able to contribute to that championship because it’ll never be won. And we certainly won’t deserve to hoist the Cup over our heads. Want that win just as much as everyone better than you.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

I Love Purple Chicks!

Be Respectful Contribution Creativity Respect

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Key Point: Innovation and even disruptive ideas are often right in front of us; just not in plain sight. The trick is to find ways to set these ideas FREE. Too often, they’re hiding in the wonderful minds of ALL the people around us. 

What would you do if predatory hawks were continuously eating over half of your baby chicks, the essence of sustaining your life as a chicken farmer? That was the recent experience of African chicken farmers. Raptors had come to treat their farms like an “all you can eat” chicken buffet. So these Tanzanian farmers, somewhat at their wit’s end as what to do, sat with an open mind to hear what their tribal elders might suggest to solve this big time problem. And what did these sage folks come up with as a solution? Hide the chicks in plain site! Huh? Yup, they brilliantly recommended painting the chicks with a bio degradable purple dye, thereby confusing the birds of prey. 

Purple

 

So the deal is hawks cannot recognize anything purple as edible to them. They can literally land in front of a purple chick and see something moving, just not lunch. The strategy had been very successful for the farmers. From losing 80 percent of their chicks they are now saving 80 percent; a huge turnaround and literally life changing (for both the farmers and baby chickens). 

This story was told by Terry O’Reilly after a customer dinner our company hosted this week. Terry is widely known as an advertising guru and the host of the hugely popular CBC radio show, “Under the Influence.” His soon to be released book “This I Know,” is a guaranteed best seller. Terry’s message in the purple chicken story was to stress the importance of ensuring psychological safety in all organizations so people at any level can freely propose ANY idea. This needs to be coupled with modern organization leadership, encouraging and expecting employees to unleash their own “purple chicken” ideas. Then leaders need to be open to receiving those ideas and putting that creativity to work. It is unacceptable to open up and promote more creativity with no way of executing. Painting the chicks was a great idea AND the farmers had to get the paint and then do it! 

Terry’s closing question to the dinner audience was: Imagine if you were the person in your tribe with the unorthodox proposal of painting the chicks purple. Who would really listen? Would people be open or would you get ignored and/or thrown out of the tribe? How does your culture really support innovation as a way of life?

 Character Moves:

  1. When it comes to finding solutions the best ones can be right there in the most obvious places; hiding like purple chickens right out in the open. We just need to be present enough to find and receive them. How good is your organization in tapping into your entire employee community for innovative solutions? How do you know? What evidence do you have? How do you do it? Improve on it? 
  1. Most of us are living in a world where the metaphorical hawks are circling above and happy to eat us for lunch. We actually do need innovation to come from outside and to assign people to help with that task. However, the biggest opportunity is INSIDE and finding ways to have people at every level think and act like there is no box. What can you do to better set ideas free? How many of your personal ideas have been executed on? How many are still hidden and out of sight? 

Painting purple in the Triangle, 

Lorne 

One Millennial View: One of my favorite components of working in digital media is the ability to try, adapt, and try again. Thanks to low overhead, a failed idea or project doesn’t always cost much in digital. It can also be improved upon in real time… Look at your favorite podcasts, YouTube channels, and other digital productions. They’ve likely changed format, evolved, dropped some segments, adopted others, and responded to user feedback. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just chicken feathers turning purple over time, and fortunately no hawks get to gobble up the entire coop in the process. It’s gratifying when we know feathers can change colors.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Are You Growing Your Personal Equity?

Accountability Contribution Culture

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Key Point: What is your net worth? What is your overall net value in the market place? The most common definition of individual net worth of course is financial: Your total assets minus total liabilities. For most people the largest single material asset earned in a lifetime is a house with no mortgage. That “paid for” house, a pension savings plan, other assets earned, along with little or no debt defines one’s ability to retire… Whatever that means these days.

But what if we approached work and life with a more comprehensive definition of net worth? What if we thought way beyond material assets versus liabilities and considered all that made us richer in a more complete way. When we conclude working in a job, company or lifetime career, my view is that we could be much better off if we think about building our overall personal equity, rather than the narrower (although very important) definition of financial net worth. When we add more skill, we are worth more. When we learn how to navigate tough issues, solve problems, innovate, build meaningful relationships, become healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually, our total personal equity increases. When we learn how to give and share knowledge, have an impact, and inspire others we also become more treasured. And when that happens, if we choose, our ability to monetize our net value or personal equity improves too.

Organizations are under such severe market pressure that a genuine offer of long-term employment is unreasonable, if not impossible. A job that was important last year may be expendable this year at any position or level. North America currently has more of a skill and competence shortage than unemployment challenge. You and I honestly don’t really know if we will still be employed at the same job a year from now. But we do know that we have to continuously develop our TOTAL selves to be sustainably marketable.

Character Moves:

  1. Find an organization that commits to the total you versus just giving you a job. They will be committed, assuming you do your part also, to invest in your total personal equity growth.
  2. Commit to finding leaders who think like this. They exist. Then pledge to take full advantage of investment opportunities in yourself. Like I noted in my previous blog, “you’re worth it!”

Personal equity in the Triangle,

Lorne