Once upon a time in Christmastown, there were two misfit employees who were encouraged to stifle their true talents in order to conform with company norms. Rudolph, with his nose so bright, was not always Santa’s favorite. While Rudolph’s flying abilities were far superior to those of his peers, he endured ruthless workplace harassment for being different, for having a skill – a glowing nose – that others did not have. To add to the shame, Santa and Rudolph’s parents did not see beyond the glow of his nose to understand how valuable this trait would one day be. Rudolph’s glowing nose blinded everyone to the fact that it could be used to the organization’s advantage. With all the ridicule, poor Rudolph did not see his worth and decided to leave Christmastown. As he ventured out on his own, he happened upon another Christmastown outcast, Hermey the elf.
Hermey too was an underappreciated former Christmastown employee. As an elf in Christmastown, one is destined to punch the time clock and work in the toy factory. Like every elf, Hermey had his assigned station on the assembly line, but unlike the other elves, Hermey had dreams – dreams of being a dentist! Hermey’s daydreaming and practicing his dentistry skills on toys often held up the production line and got him into great trouble with the head elf. Like Rudolph, Hermey realized he did not fit in with his co-workers and the company’s rigid operating standards and left Christmastown to pursue his dream.
With these two workers walking off the job, turnover in Christmastown increased significantly and unemployment was at a all time high! All this because someone in the workplace was busy trying to force them to behave and work the way everyone before them has.
While Hermey and Rudolph explored their options, they came across some interesting characters, Yukon Cornelius, an Abominable Snow Monster, and an entire island of misfit toys. During their exploration, they also acquired some additional experience, they learned to prospect for silver and gold, how sail across an ocean on an iceberg and Hermey even got to practice his dentistry skills on the Abominable Snow Monster, which saved Rudolph and his family!
Having gained confidence and skills, Hermey and Rudolph returned to Christmastown. Shortly after their return a snow storm hit. The storm was so bad Santa had gathered all the employees to announce plans to cancel the annual toy delivery. As Santa was making his announcement, Rudolph’s nose glowed so bright that it lit up the whole factory. At that moment, Santa realized the value of Rudolph’s gift. This light would be a beacon he needed to see through the snow storm. The delivery would go on as scheduled! Because of Rudolph’s ability to shine so bright, he would guide Santa’s sleigh that night. And from that night on, Rudolph has been Santa’s lead reindeer.
Look around your office of misfit teams. There are likely employees holding up production because they’re daydreaming about a better way to process data, market your product, build a better widget, or guide your team through a storm.
This holiday season, reward your employees with something they want and deserve, meaningful work that allows them to use their unique talents!
Today’s post was written by Tiffany Kuehl. Tiffany is an HR professional with over 16 years experience and has worked in hospitality, non-profit, financial services and manufacturing industries in roles focused on talent acquisition, talent management and employee development. In addition to her role as a staffing leader at a Fortune 100 manufacturing company, Tiffany currently serves as the President of the Twin Cities Human Resource Association (TCHRA), an affiliate chapter of SHRM.
She is also a contributor at Performance I Create, an HR site aimed at tackling management issues from an HR practitioner perspective. You can follow her on Twitter at @TiffanyKuehl.