COLUMN: The unknown contributors

One of my habits is to get up early each morning, pray, and engage in some challenging workout to start the day.  Several mornings a week, I will run around the La Tech football complex and/or the track.  With football practice now well under way, I can’t help but notice the group of student trainers and managers out there early in the morning before sunrise getting the practice fields ready for the team.  I have had short conversations with these student workers as I make laps around the track and have noticed a really engaged group with a great attitude to serve. 

These workers are on the field before the players arrive and are there cleaning up well after the players have left the field.  I am sure their duties continue inside the locker rooms and training facilities as well.  Most of us attending games or watching on television never give a thought to those behind-the-scenes workers.  We watch the games focused on players and coaches with no real recognition of just how much others contribute to the team’s preparation.  

These types of workers exist in many organizations.  The unsung workers that provide custodial services, IT support, administrative support, and various other services exist in most organizations, teams, and institutions.  While we may focus on those closing the deals, directing the efforts, and making the products, there are people behind-the-scenes making key contributions.  Unfortunately, all too often these people are not appreciated or recognized for the contributions they make.  They are frequently taken for granted until they fail to perform.  

While we all need to recognize and appreciate these people verbally, we also need to show our appreciation by our actions.  We can determine if a team appreciates their support staff by looking to see if used cups and towels are thrown on the ground or floor.  We can evaluate the appreciation in the workplace by looking at the condition of the break rooms and restrooms as well as monitoring the daily conversations with the support staff.  It’s fine to appreciate people periodically when things are calm and going well, but how are we treating them daily?  Those daily interactions reflect how much we truly value them.

The challenge this week is to search for at least one behind-the-scenes contributor in your organization, team, or institution and express your gratitude to them verbally and with your actions.  It could be your place of work, your church, your school, your team, or anything you consider to be relevant.  The key is to value someone that may being going unnoticed.

Those student trainers and managers at La Tech can’t work hard enough to guarantee success on the field; however, if they stop contributing, it will guarantee there won’t be success on the field.  That same concept holds true for many organizations and institutions.  Let’s all do a better job of valuing others and appreciating one another!