Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Billy’s Thirty-Eighth Law: Every part of the process is important and everyone deserves respect.

The 737, which is made up of 367,000 parts, is assembled at a factory in Renton, Wash., south of Seattle. Boeing delivered 372 of the single-aisle 737s last year — a little more than one a day.
·       NBC News

I was in the pub just the other day, when one of my fellow Old Goats (See the the importance of belonging), a former pilot, was talking about the importance of his profession.  His son-in-law retorted, “If it wasn’t for the tool and die maker (his profession), you wouldn’t have a plane to fly!”
The conversation got me to thinking of the complexity of roles in modern businesses.  There are a myriad of different tasks performed by a number of different people in a numerous of different roles.  In our society, we often value one role over the person performing the role.  In business this is incredibly stupid! 
Think about your own organization.  How many people does it take to get your product / service to your customers?  How many people does it take to run your business?  Each person, whether an employee or a sub-contractor, plays a role in your business.  My business is simple…in fact when I started out I did everything.  I sold myself, wrote the workshop materials, kept the books and, since I was still a proprietorship, I even did my own income taxes.  The only sub-contractor I had was Staples Printing Centre.  
For most businesses and organizations this is not the case.  It amazes me how many people open, and subsequently close restaurants.  On the surface, restaurants seem simple.  By food, mark it up, prepare it and sell it.  In reality a restaurant is a combination of custom manufacturing, high levels of customer care and a highly competitive industry.  Staff turnover is also high.   Successful restaurateurs are strong in marketing, manufacturing (cooking) and human resources.   Restaurants are tough.  Those who run successful restaurants are superb business managers.  (There is an old saying in the restaurant business that 1/3rd of your revenue goes to food, 1/3rd goes to staff, 1/3rd goes to overheads and the rest is profit!)
The point, and there is a point, is to remember those in critical, yet traditionally undervalued positions in any organization.  Doctors and nurses are important.  So are ward clerks.  Teachers and principals are important.  So is the school custodian.  We often respect highly paid roles more than those at the other end of the scale.  Everyone deserves respect.  If there is a position in your organization, commercial or non-commercial, that is unnecessary then it should not exist to begin with.  When a position exists, that role contributes to the organization.  So does the individual performing that role.
I once noticed that those who had the worst jobs were often the worst paid and the worst treated.  (I have often thought that those with the worst jobs should get the higher pay... but that's never going to happen!) Sometimes, nasty jobs have to be done.  Sometimes, pay is a function of ability to pay. I understand all of that.  That said there is never an excuse to treat people badly.  So to all of you retail clerks, security guards, dishwashers, janitors and cleaners… you are important.  Your role is important and you deserve respect.   To all you owners and managers out there… remember it!

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