Positional devaluation is an epidemic. Perhaps you don’t know what that is. After all, it is not the lead story on the evening news nor the headline in your favorite newspaper. For some, it might seem ridiculous and petty, but I assure you, it is not.
Look at the way roles within your company are viewed. Aren’t some seen as more valuable than others? I understand that the COO or CFO is an important role and might have a different level of value to the organization, but does that mean that other roles are not valuable? Too often, we sell new candidates on the stepping stone view of the role they’ve applied for. We apologize for the role, in essence. We see the role as less than what someone should settle for.
What kind of message is that? Do you expect someone to just take the job because you do a Jedi mind trick? (“This isn’t the job you’re looking for. The job offered will do fine. Move along.”) With such a poor setup, it’s unlikely that a candidate would accept, and if they do, be assured that it’s just to collect a paycheck while the new employee interviews for other jobs. Sad and not encouraging, I know, but truthful.
Devaluing a position is a cultural nightmare. Take, for example, employees who used to do a job such as what I've described. They feel comfortable to give the “oh, you are the new guy doing this? Ha, good luck!” speech. I understand the teasing and sometimes it just might showcase the familial spirit of the company. However, what isn’t okay is to allow the mocking to be a staple of the workday. Devaluing the job being done is to devalue the person doing the job.
Listen. For those of who you really know me, you know that I have sensitive moments. I offer sympathy; I empathize with others. The devaluing of a job is NOT a sensitivity-thing. My perspective is not about primarily caring for feelings (although, I am not against that either), but rather it’s about protecting the culture of the company and the “every job is important” attitude. It cannot just be a cute phrase, but belief in action.
My first on-the-books job was with Friendly’s. I was a dishwasher. Not a glamorous job. I was thrown all kinds of crap and no one said anything to me. I lasted six weeks. It wasn’t because I was too good for the job, but because I was alone and made to feel unimportant. I looked at my job as being less than everyone else’s. I didn’t like that feeling, but the message was clear. But think about running that restaurant without clean pots, pans, dishes or glassware. That job is vital regardless of glamor. It would be out of touch with business necessity for a company to think otherwise.
So, simply, review those overlooked roles in your organization. Speak into them. Now look at those jobs that are devalued intentionally through commentary and jokes. Fix it. It’s messaging that must be addressed.
There is nothing wrong with washing dishes for a living. There is nothing wrong with packing and shipping boxes for a living. There is nothing wrong with cutting lawns for a living. There is nothing wrong with waiting tables for 30 years. Nothing at all.