Most of us work where we choose to work, for those we choose to work for. The value of having equity in your position that moves the organization forward, and being a team member that adds value, worth, with your fingerprint is an individually earned accomplishment.
After 20 years as a Chamber CEO, and having the privilege of leaving out the front door in 2004 to open my own Chamber and Association Training and Speaking Company, I realized that every staff team member that I worked with had his and her own value, contribution and level of equity in the building, growth, and success of the chamber. In short, everyone has their gift.
To not let or encourage an employee, volunteer or staff person to unwrap and use their gift is just short of a felony.
Employee training is an ongoing, every hour, and every day opportunity for everyone on your payroll.
Cross training, job sharing was always more fun than expected. During our weekly scheduled staff meeting, we would put the names of each staff person in a bowl, and pick one name that would write the agenda and conduct the next week’s staff meeting. This gave each staff member the opportunity to understand and amplify the value of working together. It also gave everyone a chance for leadership on the front line as they ran the staff meeting. One day a month we would also pick from the same bowl of names the person that you would fill his or her position for 2 hours during the same week. I included my name in the bowl, and more than once, I was the receptionist, membership development director, etc.
To understand the responsibilities, obligations, risks and rewards of each position built a solid team of 11 employees that proved to be long term employees, which is always the benefit to the membership, board of directors, community and organization.
Staff evaluations were always looked forward to, and not perceived as an “Oh No, time for my evaluation”.
As an instructor for Institute for several years, the question has often come up about firing employees. Understandably not a pleasant task that is part of the CEO’s responsibilities. When I get the question asked, ”What procedure did you use when you had to fire someone David?” My answer is always the same. I respond by saying that in my 20 years of chamber management, I never fired one employee. So the question comes up, how that could be? My sincere answer is that employees fire themselves, and would bring in their file to share what they had done to bring the conversation and action to this point. It was better understood, by both of us. I remember I got a thank you note from a former staff person for the lesson learned that they fired themselves, and that their involvement and equity in their position was their sole responsibility. I found that rather refreshing, and this former employee is still in the Chamber world after 10 years in another state.
One day I had a staff person come in my office and he asked, after his first six months, ”David, How am I doing in my job after 6 months?” I asked him right away, how he would rate his performance after 6 months. His response was that he is always on time, works until 5pm, always takes a 55 minute lunch and gets his work done. I said I agree with you, but I think you treat your job like a rental car.
With puzzlement in his thoughts, he asked what I meant. I shared with him he was a valued member of the team, but like a rental car, he did not treat his job like he owned it.
Palm Springs in the summer can get over 120 degrees, and to find a shaded parking space is like winning the lotto. This employee once had a rental car for over a week, in the summer, and he was the only one who parked in front of the chamber office in the full sun. One needs a baking glove to open a car door in the summer, as the door handles on the chamber office were wrapped in a hand towel so as not to burn the hands of our visitors. I asked him if he had his own car would he park in the sun like he did his rental, he responded, or course not. I invited him to think of the rental car as his job. Do you keep it washed, clean inside, check the oil, and park in the shade like the rest of us?
The light bulb went off, and he said, “I get it David”. That was a moment in his learning curve when he understood that his position needed his above and beyond attention to really make it “His Position” and that a bit of extra attention during the day would give him more equity in his job. He stayed on the team for several years, and we often joked about his treating his job like a rental car. He even used the example when he was moved to a Management Position in the chamber with his new team members.
The point is what are you doing in your job position that is building equity in contribution to the growth and success of your Chamber or Association? Treat your position like you own it, because you do own it, you drive it, you polish it, you keep it clean.
On your next visit to the Palm Springs Area in the summer, find a shady place to park your car, even if it is rental.