A temp worker’s dream come true
I've been reading your column for years, and I have been able to identify with about every problem your readers write about. I especially read with interest the articles regarding temporary employees. I graduated from college 8 years ago with a general business and communication degree. I had a few unfortunate experiences with advertising agencies, and became confused and discouraged about how I could use my skills. I decided to become a temporary employee. I knew my computer skills weren't up to the levels companies were demanding.
When I joined the temporary agency, I wanted to be thrown into every type of industry. I figured I would become more "life smart" even if I wasn't offered permanent work at some of the companies. I had to know what was out there. I spent over two years at each company. I was certain not all companies thought their employees' opinions and input didn't count, and all managers didn't get away with sexist and chauvinistic comments. I was not in search of a utopian environment; I was simply in search of decency in the workplace. I don't consider myself a prima dona, just a good employee, hard-working, creative and loyal. Money wasn't even the largest factor, just mutual respect between departments, managers and subordinates.
I was a temp for 18 months and worked for 14 different companies. Most of my experiences have been fantastic. I've learned quite a lot of different skills (at least 10 new computer programs). I've made some good friends at the companies I've worked at, obtained a lot of good references, and learned an awful lot about people and politics (an area where I was very naive). I was surprised at how much professionalism was really out there. And yes, companies do employ managers who listen and interact with others. My faith was restored in the workplace. What I experienced was better than sitting around collecting unemployment. I would have settled down with any number of companies I worked at, if permanent work were available.
The company I settled down with is a place most employees would dream about. The company is a computer services company. It's growing steadily every year. Besides the impressive services the company has to offer, the CEO of the firm is what has made the company what it is. As a temporary employee, he let me stay after hours and type very confidential information about the company goals through 1996. One of his main concerns is to maintain the current culture he has worked very hard to achieve as the company grows. He keeps a book with the company goals in the lunchroom so everyone is privy to his plans and ideas. He listens to ideas from every department and every position (there are no "levels" here). He stresses how diversity among co-workers is an excellent learning opportunity. He is always friendly, asks about your weekend, sees you are busy and offers to get you coffee (quite a shocker, that has never happened to me in my life). If any manager wants an example of what type of leader our CEO is, there is a book called "Credibility" by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner, which sites examples of why certain employees are so loyal to their employers. The repetitive theme is obvious - TRUST. He trusts that all of us will do good work for him, and we respond graciously in return.
The CEO's views are an extension of the people he employs as well. Every manager is open, treats their people well, listens to their cries if their workload is overwhelming, and finds alternate solutions. I was especially impressed with how they use an individual's skills to fit into their company structure. Every department realizes that one couldn't function without the other. I was a little scared to be a temp at this company, thinking I wasn't a "techie" and my computer skills weren't up to their standards. Their response was, " Well, you've come to the right place then, haven't you?" WOW! I was promoted after only three months. I am considered by my fellow workers to be smart, sharp and creative. On Sunday evenings I look forward to Monday because it's the start of a new work week. If it weren't for temporary employment, I never would have stumbled upon this great place to work.
How refreshing! Most of the mail I receive is from disgruntled employees who feel they have been mistreated by insensitive managers. I imagine that there are a number of CEOs or managers reading this who wish they could have an employee just like you. Some of them don't realize that they could have a whole company full of people just like you. It doesn't happen by accident, as your letter points out. There are certain elements that almost always create the culture you describe:
· The CEO treats every employee like a business partner by sharing strategic and financial information openly and regularly.
· The CEO sets the tone of friendliness and respect for every employee and only hires managers who will do the same.
· The CEO is humble and without an ego that gets in the way of teamwork.
· The CEO believes deeply that every employee wants to do their best. Each action demonstrates the trust they give to their employees.
· The CEO believes that employees who are empowered to grow and learn new skills will be satisfied and motivated to grow the business.
Congratulations on being resourceful enough to use temporary work to explore the work world and to find a position that is truly more than "just a job." Your letter is testimony that there are many great leaders out there.
Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist.
She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 354-9500, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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