Yesterday, I read a blog post by one of my favorite branding/marketing/leadership gurus, Seth Godin. The post, titled “It’s not the bottom, it’s the foundation” touches on how often we treat those who are paid the least and interact with our customers the most as if they were at the bottom of the organizational chart, as opposed to them being the foundation of our business. Those of us in leadership roles come and go as we please, feel superior, and will quickly treat those in lesser-paying positions as if they are expendable. That shouldn’t be the case.
Our administrative assistant in my department is, in my opinion, just as valuable as my boss in some ways, more in other ways. Sure, she doesn’t go out and ask for the dollars we raise but her knowledge of our institution, who’s who, and what’s what allows me to do my job exceptionally well. In addition, without her ability to use our databases so well, I wouldn’t be able to ask for a report at 2, have it in hand at 2:15, and it be easy enough for me to present at 3. In essence without her, I wouldn’t be able to do my job.
I am willing to bet that, in every corporation, from Microsoft to the United States government, there are people who hold up the organization but aren’t duly compensated. And I can’t say that they ever will be. But they ought to be treated with just as much respect as anyone in the organization. So let’s stop treating them like the bottom of the organizational chart and more like the foundation of the organization. See how different that sounds?
Make professional development a priority.