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No One Is "Just" Anything

I’m fortunate to work for really great owners that genuinely care about our team members. But at the same time, they’re business people. They don’t do it just to make themselves feel good, or to be charitable. Business needs to operate profitably, otherwise we’re all in trouble. Bottom line, if we pay you to do a job, you’re important. But is that enough?

I recently heard a talk by Nora Burns (video link here) that struck a chord with me. She went undercover with team members posing as one of their own and doing the jobs they do. What she found, was a lot of people who called themselves (a term she coins), “Just’a’s”. As in, I’m just a cashier, just a busboy, etc.

Her talk made me think about what we can do to prevent our team members from thinking of themselves as “just’a’s”.

  • Discuss their value. Do this right away! Start with the job posting. Get away from the bland key job responsibilities. Show them how they’re going to engage their customers, and how they can help the company accomplish their goals through this job. Reinforce the message in the interview, tell them again when you’re offering the job. Onboarding, first days/weeks/months of work, the process continues.

  • Illustrate their value. Help them see the value of the work they do each day, and tie it to business results. Sure, that cashier may ring customers out very quickly. But what is the impact to our customers? They help our customers conclude their shopping trip quickly and efficiently, and they do it with a smile. Do you think that customer will come back? You better believe it! That cashier helped to create a loyal shopper who will keep coming back. That affects the bottom line.

  • Appreciate their value. Yes, they’re doing the job you pay them for. And if that’s your view of them, they’ll know it too. They’ll start to see themselves as just a timecard who’s punching in and out. And that’s when the “just’a” mentality starts.

  • Let them create their own value. Resist the urge to fit team members into a box. Everyone has unique skill-sets, talents, abilities, passions. Take advantage of these by allowing them to embrace their job and make it their own (within company parameters, naturally). Whatever it is, make sure it’s not just something they’re good at, but something they like to do.

  • Reinforce their value. Celebrate their successes, and remind them of how much they matter. When customers share praise, share it with the team member. Even if they’ve been doing their job for years, they still need to know they’re doing well, and that they matter to you. Constantly remind them of their value to the organization.

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