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Wed, Jun 20, 2012

Talent Strategies

Are Your People in the Right Roles?

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Many managers say they care about their employees’ job fit and career development; however, few actively act on such understanding.

Both of these elements within the employee lifecycle are among Avatar HR Solutions Research Institute’s Top 10 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement, making it worth the time  to recast employees into roles that let them make the best use of their skills and abilities. Or, as author Jim Collins so aptly put it, getting each employee in “the right seat on the bus.”

To illustrate that point, I’d like to share an example from my  book, “Building a Magnetic Culture.” The excerpt presents a wonderful story about Miss Betty, an employee from Ochsner Health System, and her manager who cared enough to take action and recast her.

She is more than just a greeter to patients and guests at Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, Louisiana; she is Miss Betty, an always smiling, forever cheerful, burst of positivity and enthusiasm. The Louisiana hospital group first recognized Miss Betty’s positive attitude and ability to connect with patients and their families when she started working as a housekeeper 30 years ago. She excelled in that position for many years, but senior leaders thought her people skills could be better put to use. They speculated Miss Betty could make a far greater impact on patients and guests as a greeter than as a housekeeper. In 2010, they proposed a switch in her role.

Miss Betty was absolutely delighted by the idea, especially since her favorite part about working for Ochsner is interacting with people. As a greeter for the Jefferson Highway campus, Miss Betty is the first point of contact for guests entering the hospital through the parking garage. She shapes the patient experience early by helping provide detailed directions for navigating the large hospital. She learns and remembers people’s names and never stops smiling. Many Ochsner guests actually stop to hug Miss Betty when they are coming and going because she has developed such a caring relationship with them. Miss Betty’s colleagues frequently overhear guests talking about how wonderful she is, how she is “perfect” for her job.

When asked why she is always in such a good mood, Miss Betty says that she simply loves what she does. She thinks people are interesting and she enjoys getting to know them through her position. Senior leaders at Ochsner should be credited for recognizing talent and understanding how to make the most of it. By empowering Miss Betty to do what she does best, she is now an ambassador of service excellence and one of the many reasons Ochsner is a hospital of choice.

Kevin Sheridan is Senior Vice President – HR Optimization of Avatar HR Solutions. He has extensive experience in the human capital field, having co-founded three successful survey-related organizations. Kevin received a Master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School, concentrating his degree in Managerial Decision-Making and Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior.

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