The possibility of a federal government shutdown due to an impasse between Congress and the President is upon us once again – shades of the early ‘90s. And as the media attempt to explain what all this means, we are once again hearing that essential services will continue (the post office, Social Security checks, etc.), while “nonessential workers” will not be at their jobs.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be working for a company where I was labeled with that designation. What does that tell you about your value to the organization? And if a lack of funds means that you’re at home watching Jersey Shore until a budget is passed, that can’t feel very good.
But it led me to think about how employees in the real world often have a choice about whether they allow the company to classify them as “nonessential.” Because everyone has the potential to offer something very special, from the receptionist to the part-time weekend guy to the sales assistant.
In today’s tighter and leaner radio station, you may argue that there are no “nonessential workers.” But I would respond that cuts are still occurring, signaling the ongoing need for everyone in the operation to make a unique contribution, going above and beyond their job descriptions.
Seth Godin’s Linchpin typifies the spirit that is so necessary in today’s environment. The concept of becoming indispensable to an organization is within the power of all employees, if they are willing to commit themselves to finding unique ways to serve and contribute.
We are all judged. And our ability to make a meaningful contribution to our organizations is at the root of becoming “essential.”
I sometimes hear from people at stations who say they don’t understand the mission or that they aren’t sure what their bosses expect from them.
On the other hand, I also run across motivated employees who see voids and set out to fill them. In one cluster, I met someone who did a little homework and took it upon himself to become the PPM expert. He has become the go-to guy for all things Arbitron-related. Talk about essential.
At another, I met a woman who has singlehandedly become the social media maven. Her cluster now generates substantial revenue, almost all of it due to her willingness to learn a new area and become a different kind of asset to the operation.
As staffs thin out and companies try to do more with less, there are even more opportunities to offer something unique.
If there was a budget crisis in your company and only “essential” employees were being retained, where would you be classified?
It’s time to become “essential.”