Editor's note: This article written by Amy Rees Anderson originally appeared on Forbes.com and is being reprinted with her permission.
Every single job in a company has vast importance, and far too often people lack an appreciation or an understanding of just how impactful each position is to the overall success or failure of a business.
In my many years as a CEO, I would often watch as employees across various departments would either feel that their position was the most important position in the entire company, or that their role simply didn’t matter. Those who felt they were “better than” always thought their skill set or knowledge made them far more critical to the success of the company than someone who performed a “lesser” job than they did. Any time employees felt this way I knew it was time for an immediate intervention. I came to learn that this “better-than” attitude almost always stemmed from a complete lack of understanding of what went on in other positions throughout the company that they deemed to be “lesser than.” When these situations arose, I intervened by making every employee spend a few days or weeks working in the various departments of the company in order to have them experience each role firsthand. I found that putting people through this additional training worked instant magic in helping them to have a greater appreciation for the importance of every other person in the organization.
Prior to this intervention, these “better-than” employees viewed themselves as the most critical component to our company’s success. However, they came away recognizing that without every department doing its part, none of us would be able to succeed. This exercise in mutual respect and appreciation was one of the most valuable exercises we put people through and the results were tremendous. I highly recommend that every company implement this intervention for its existing staff, and include it as part of any new hire training programs.
So often in life people can only appreciate what they have firsthand knowledge of. They only know how difficult their own job is, but just by exposing them to other jobs, a leader can help to rectify this. Consider the following example of sales company as it illustrates how connected each department is in a company and the impact individual successes or failures can have on an entire organization.
First is marketing. If they don’t brand the company well and get its name out there, then there won’t be new sales coming in to the business. If they don’t keep outbound communication flowing to clients, then there will be unhappy customers. Getting the messaging right to properly define the company is their most vital role, and the entire company falters when they don’t do it well.
Next is sales. If sales doesn’t follow up on leads, then the company won’t have new clients. If salespeople set unclear or unrealistic expectations for a client, the client will never be happy. If salespeople don't communicate the right information to a customer or to the other employees in the other divisions of the company, then the client will have billing problems, pricing issues, and complaints about delivery of their product or service. Thus, everyone in the company relies on sales to communicate accurately so that delivery can be a success.
Then there are account managers. If the account managers don’t do a good job of training and supporting the customers and explaining the needed processes, the client will be unhappy and the company will lose the account. If account managers don’t communicate new changes or requirements from their clients to other departments in the company in a timely manner, then those departments can’t do their jobs correctly. If the account managers don’t tell finance about client billing issues then finance can’t do their job correctly. If the account managers don’t keep their clients happy, then the sales team can’t make additional sales.
Next there are the operations/delivery teams. If the operations teams don’t follow the proper instructions or training documents, then they won’t do their jobs correctly, the account managers receive client complaints, and the sales team won’t have good references to make new sales in the future. If the operations teams upset delivery partners then those delivery partners may not come through for them, leading to clients not getting their services.
Then there is finance. If mistakes are made on invoicing, payment application and posting, credits, etc., then the clients are furious and accounts are lost and sales have no references. If finance doesn’t make payments on time then delivery partners get upset and services to clients are impacted, which can result in losing the client’s business. If finance doesn’t handle collections well, the result is upset clients and the possible loss of business.
One can’t forget human resources. If HR makes mistakes, then payroll doesn’t get issued, and we all know the stress that causes in any company. If HR doesn’t bring in good hires to the company, then there will be a poor quality of employees and every other person is impacted because they are left to carry the extra burden. If HR runs out of tissues then the entire company is in trouble! (Don’t act like you have never cried to HR We all have at some point.)
Then there is IT. If computers don’t work or servers go down, then the company will have staff sitting and getting paid while no production can take place, which can cost the company a fortune. In addition, if servers are down, clients can’t place orders, which means no new revenue coming into the company, which means the company can’t make payroll, etc.
Next there is research and development. If applications crash, employees can’t work and the staff sits — getting paid with no production — and the company loses money. Or clients can’t place orders and the company loses revenue. They also have the burden of fixing help tickets and new system enhancements in a timely fashion and any system mistakes they make can cause every link in the chain to fail, so they too have a huge burden that has to be done correctly or the entire business is hurt by it.
If training and quality don’t do their part right, then the employees are trained poorly from the get-go, and everything, in every way, falls completely apart at every stage. The impact of their jobs is clear and needs no more comment. If the front desk person doesn’t greet people with a smile, then their impression of the company is poor. If they don’t answer the phones properly and politely direct people where they can get help, then the clients are upset and the company loses business.
If the person who cleans the building and takes out the trash stops doing it, the company would have a really messy and disgusting office that would be miserable to work in every day.
Every single person in a company is a valuable piece of the chain. If they do their part wrong, the entire chain feels the effect. That chain is in a circle that goes round and round, with no beginning and no end. Every person matters and is equally important to the overall functions done in a company. No one person is insignificant or small in the process. Everyone needs each other.
Employees should take their role in that chain seriously. Don’t make mistakes that hurt others because you told yourself that your job didn’t really matter or it wasn’t that important. It is. And when you don’t do it right you hurt every other person and every customer you serve. So no one should ever think or say that their role doesn’t matter, because I can promise you that it does!