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Senior Correspondent

"To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything else be more fun?"  Katharine Graham

I found myself chatting with my niece about why she decided to resign from a nicely paying position with a well known firm. The short story was that she had been placed in a position that did not utilize her skill sets and experience in a job that did not seem to matter. She could not see how what she was doing was adding any value whatsoever. And, it was draining all of her energy and huge stash of positive attitude just trying to make it work.

It became harder and harder each day to motivate herself, and she didn't want to risk being the kind of employee who didn't care. In spite of several actions on her part to improve the situation, she felt boxed in. And, so she chose to resign and invest 100% of her attention in pursuit of an opportunity where she could add value and be valued.

This conversation led me to reflect on a couple of things. I realized that when asked by clients and family members for a piece of advice that will help them successfully navigate their entire career, my response is simply to "always bring more value to your employer than you cost. Be an asset, and seek ways to increase the value you bring to your employer, no matter what position you are in." And, the ways to make that happen are as endless as one's creativity.

When asked by employers and business owners for a single piece of advice to assure employee engagement and satisfaction, which leads to customer loyalty and retention, our answer is to continuously and consistently communicate how much you value your employees. Again, the ways that can be accomplished are as endless as one's creativity, and go well beyond words, money and T-shirts.

We have observed that when employees have clear ways to add value, and it is clear to them that they are adding value, they typically become high performing, low maintenance employees. They understand how important their job is, and things like absenteeism, tardiness, and quality or service errors are non-issues. They are better able to self-manage and show initiative on behalf of customers, well beyond what is expected.

In today's lean workplaces, we can be pretty darned sure that every position is essential, and therefore, of great value to the organization. The trick is to make sure that each employee is able to connect with the importance of his or her role. Once that happens, employees are likely to perform their job very well, and then some.

"There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes."  William J. Bennett

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