Questioning Value

The obvious thing to do isn’t always the right thing and the right thing to do isn’t always obvious. As we get working and busy our minds are often so focused on the task we’re doing that we forget how what we’re doing connects to adding value. For a brief time in life, I had the job of a dishwasher at a brick oven pizzeria. It was a pretty mechanical job. Sort, load or scrub, dry and stack. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I had no idea what I was doing but knew everything about the tasks I was performing.

It’s easy for all of us regardless of our station to fall into this trap. Thankfully it’s also simple for us to pull ourselves out of it. Ask yourself the question: How do your actions add value to the organization’s stakeholders?

Let’s use the dishwasher for this exercise. It’s a pretty low-level job. Probably didn’t have much impact right?

Who were the stakeholders for a dishwasher and how did I add value? Well, there’s the cooks who needed the clean pots, the wait staff who needed clean cups and plates, and the customers who wanted to eat without the worry of getting sick. OK, so that’s cooks, wait staff, and customers. That’s pretty much everyone.

Too bad I didn’t see it when I had the job. Night after night of working my brain got trapped thinking that the only place in the world was the back corner of that restaurant. I never thought of my impact because I’d gotten so focused on what I did I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Sort, load or scrub, dry and stack.

I was just doing the work, got frustrated, and quit because I didn’t see the value in the work that I was doing. If you see someone frustrated you don’t have to confront their attitude, just ask them questions that help them see the value they bring to the organization. Our society is pretty used to responding to the “what do you do question.” So, it’s not too much of a stretch to take that response and start a conversation about adding value.

So many negative feelings go away when we see how valuable our efforts truly are.