Over the weekend I spent some time in Birmingham for an athletics event. I very much enjoyed watching the various athletes push themselves and compete to meet and surpass previous records and to ultimately win. At the same time, I found myself watching with fascination as people brought the hurdles in – at times virtually running to ensure that the hurdles were put in place for one race and taken away in time for the next. Critical was not just the speed, but also the care they took to ensure that the hurdles were securely positioned and aligned. Image what could happen if they didn’t.
Sitting not far from from where the long jump took place, I observed the person that sat on the side and check each jump to ensure that it was a legal jump. Lifting up a white to indicate that it was and a red flag to say it was not. There were also three other people that I noticed on the side – the person that measured the distance of the jump and two people that smoothed out the jump in preparation for the next competitor. I suspect that there were many more people working behind the scenes to make things work. I just couldn’t see them all.
I could go on and on and on and talk about the Security Workers and the Car Park attendants and the Caters ….. It all reminded me with a conversation that I had last weekend with a School Librarian who mentioned that a student came to her with a box of chocolates. He wanted to thank her as one of the “Small People” that are essential to the workings of things. Indeed from what I know of her work she does pay a critical role within the school. However, when we talk about schools we remember the students, the teachers and the leader. We often don’t remember the Teaching Assistants, the Maintenance workers, Catering staff and all the other employers that play a less visible, yet equally significant role in making a school work smoothly.
Hopefully this will serve as a gentle reminder to you to remember the importance and value added by the little people in your organisation or even that you just meet as you sojourn along the way.
I hope you have a great week.
Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013
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