If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one thousand times — in order to be effective, strategic HR professionals, we have to know and understand as much as we can about every aspect of business. And at the core of that is knowing what the people in our organizations do in their jobs every day.
So I was delighted when I stumbled across this article from HR Chatterbox Sabrina Baker about the value of knowing, remembering and refreshing yourself on the jobs performed by the employees in your company. This week’s post is giving “honey” to Sabrina for this call to action and for inspiring me to share the HR Wisdom I’ve gleaned from my trading spaces experiences.
In my early 20s, I worked as the On-Site Manager for a staffing company. Our client was a packaging facility with almost 400 temps and another 200 – 300 full-time employees producing 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. They had a no-fault attendance policy that penalized employees if they were even one minute late. So to reward employees for perfect attendance, I held a monthly trading places drawing — the winner got a day off and I worked in their place for a 12-hour shift.
Recognizing that it was all in good fun and not wanting to hurt production, the shift supervisor would assign me an easy task for the day. Re-work was my favorite! All I had to do there was rip open damaged packaging and prep it to be packaged again. I was brilliant! A total re-work rock star!
Then the day came when the shift supervisor decided to put me on Machine 6. It was a monster! It was the oldest machine in the building and feared all over the plant for being tempermental, ornery — and super fast! When they called out my line assignment during the pre-shift meeting, I was terrified. And I spent the next 4 hours stuggling to keep up and not shut down production or break the machine. I managed to do both. It could have been completely humiliating if everyone wasn’t having such a good time laughing at me, including myself. I was truly awful! If I could have, I would have told me to “hit the red line,” which was the safety walkway that led from production to the lobby and management’s inappropriate way of telling people they were fired.
Instead, they moved me to Machine 7 where the equipment was more friendly and the pace was not as frenzied. I broke a production record with the team on that line for the day! I still have the t-shirt from that — and I still wear it with pride.
What I am also proud about is the wisdom I gained from my trading places experience:
Sadly, I have also seen some trading-places disasters. Here are the common threads of what went wrong:
Use these opportunities for the good of everyone involved — or “hit the red line” 😉