If given a choice, I do not want employees.
The largest team I ever managed was 17 – and it was a great team. But when you manage a team for a big company, you quickly learn that there is much that will impact them that you have no control over: from percentage pay increases to lay offs, from personal time off to parking.
I realize that every company is different – admittedly my particular experience molds my outlook.
In spite of those limitations, as a manager, I tried to help them move towards their goals (in any little or large way I could) even if that meant I was mentoring them out of the company.
I think that’s why the vignette in John Jantsch’s book The Commitment Engine: Making Work Worth It
(affiliate link) on Jancoa’s Dream Manager program resonated with me.
Here’s the story: Jancoa, based in Cincinnati, provides janitorial service. They had more business than they could deliver. Janitorial services require people. However, the industry endures a turnover rate of over 400%. Jancoa was hiring 50 people a month and yet couldn’t realize a dependable workforce.
The owners went audacious in their thinking. First they invested in vans and began shuttling employees to and from work – they realized that one problem was many of their employees wanted to come to work but couldn’t afford reliable transportation.
They didn’t stop there. They realized that vacuuming office carpet and office carpet is not particularly inspirational. So they put together the Dream Manager program to assist under skilled employees in realizing their dreams.
Jantsch quotes Jancoa owner Mary Miller, “People don’t dream about entering the cleaning industry, but now they come to work for us and we tell them give us your best three to five years and we’ll help you work your way out of a job.”
And it’s working. The employees are thriving. Customers are receiving better service. Jancoa is growing and profitable.
While the answer to taking my business or you taking your business to the next level will likely be along a different path than the one taken by Jancoa – it is their thinking that is so impressive and challenges me to look beyond the oft-suggested paths. Because in grabbing the reigns and forging ahead on untried path, we may not only find an answer to the limiting problems of our business, we may just stumble onto a powerful and unique competitive differentiator.