When do you play better – when playing a game you despise or one you truly enjoy?
Let me ask you another question – have you ever promoted someone due to their excellent job performance, only to see their performance deteriorate? I have. And it ended up being a lose/lose situation for everyone involved.
But often the reason isn’t lack of ability, it’s the simple fact that the person who was promoted is now in a position he or she no longer enjoys.
For years, we struggled to find the right person to work our front desk. Finally, we found and hired someone perfect for the job. She is likeable, always smiling and has a great attitude. She made a great impression on the people who called or visited the company for the first time.
She made us look good.
Being that she was so good with people, we decided to put her in a part-time sales position. Within just two months, she told me that she didn’t like sales and asked if she could get her old job back.
This work situation ended up being a perfect precursor to a similar situation with my daughter, Rachel and a decision I’d need to make as a result.
One night I decided to play a couple card tricks on my daughter Rachel. She surprised me by saying, “Give me the cards Dad and I’ll show you how to play a real card trick.” At just 15, Rachel proceeded to pull off the best card trick I had ever seen in my life.
She started by placing 16 cards face up, asked me to pick one and remember it. Next, Rachel asked me a couple of questions about the card I had picked, turned the cards over, placed them into four piles face down and had me pick two piles I wanted removed. Then, she had me pick one more pile to get rid of, so we were down to just four cards left face down on the table. Rachel asked me to pick two of the four cards to be removed and we were down to just two cards. And finally, she had me select the final card to be removed, which I did.
I was stunned when she flipped the last card over and asked if it was my card. It was. I laughed as I told her it couldn’t be possible. That she couldn’t know how to manipulate me into picking the right piles of cards to remove from the deck until she got down to the very last card (the one I picked in the beginning).
So I asked her to do it again. And Rachel pulled it off just as perfectly the next time. When I asked her how she did it, she smiled and said, “It’s magic Dad!”
We were having fun, so she suggested trying a couple more, but said she needed to run to her room for a couple minutes first. Moments later, she came back and pulled off another card trick without a hitch. Then she returned to her room again before coming back to pull off another trick with perfect execution.
Are you sensing a theme yet?
I was and said, “Alright, you are getting me real good here Rachel. But you need to explain to me why you keep running to your room for a couple minutes before you play the next card trick on me.” She replied, “It’s simple Dad. I’m going on the internet and studying how to do the trick, then coming back and trying them out on you.” Scratching my head, I continued with, “But you are only gone for a couple of minutes. How could you possibly pick the tricks up that quick?”
“That’s all it takes Dad,” she replied with a smirk.
Of my three daughters, Rachel’s grades are the lowest. I felt this was a perfect teaching opportunity and connected her ability to learn card tricks with her potential in the classroom. “Rachel, you’re a genius at learning and doing card tricks. How can you be getting C’s and D’s on your report card and yet be so good at learning these tricks?” She simply replied, “Well, I tolerate school, but l’m not really that interested in it. I DO really like doing card tricks though.”
Back to the lady who asked to return to her position in the front office. From my experience encountering this situation in the past, I knew it would be best to place her back in the position she enjoyed, instead of forcing her to stay in sales. So I thanked her for bringing it to my attention and gave her the old job back. I also told her how wise it was for her to come talk to me about not being happy in the new position, as many would have stayed there and been miserable. That if she would have stayed quiet and stayed put, in the end both her and the company would suffer as a result.
The moral of today’s story: Make sure your employees are in positions they enjoy. If you do, I know you’ll see much better results out of not only each employee, but your team as a whole.
Damian Lang owns and operates several companies in Ohio. He is the inventor of the Grout Hog-Grout Delivery System, Mud Hog mortar mixers, Hog Leg wall-bracing system, and several other labor-saving devices used in the construction industry. He is the author of the book called “RACE—Rewarding And Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry.” He writes for Masonry Magazine each month and consults with many of the leading contractors in the country.