The Worker

There are different types of people who show up to the job each day and are a positive influence on the organization. We’ve got leaders, managers, dreamers, hype men, and the list goes on. One of those positive influences is the worker. The worker completes the items that are in the job description. The worker works the correct number of hours. You can rely on the worker to check all the boxes, cross the t’s, dot the i’s, and show up to work on time. They will read and respond to all the emails and show up for every meeting. They get great reviews of their work and have high evaluation scores. Some of you are probably thinking, “I wish I had more workers on my staff,” and that may be true. For many roles, the worker is the most appropriate and efficient choice.

Here’s one more thing that the worker has: a blind spot for changing the systems that exist. Especially if those systems fall outside their job description. However, the worker can end up in leadership roles because of their strong track record of getting the job done, but they don’t examine the world around them for inefficiencies and inequity. They don’t push back on questionable decisions by a superior. They keep the system moving without thinking about whether or not this system accomplishes what it seeks to accomplish. The worker isn’t a leader, yet.

One idea that I want to make clear: this is not a deficiency or a problem created or perpetuated by the worker. This is a problem of human capital management. This is a problem based on putting the wrong people in the wrong positions within an organization. This is a problem of promoting based on longevity or good reviews, but not based on the needs of the position. This is a problem of evaluation systems that promote and reward checking the boxes. This is a problem of not training people to examine systems. This is a problem of not guiding strong workers through a leadership development program before giving them the responsibilities and expectations that come with being a leader. This is a problem of hoping someone becomes a leader rather than developing them.

It is the job of the organization to develop workers into managers and leaders so that their influence is not confined or limited and they can impact the next generation of workers and doers. How is your organization doing this?