What does your company look like from the point of view of staff? In this Let’s Define video, I define the “Employee For a Day” concept and why it’s so important.
Read my definition of “Employee For a Day” and what happened when I tried this experiment as a new manager.
Watch the video, or read the transcript below:
Hi, I’m Grace LaConte, the Strategic Risk Expert. This is Let’s Define, a video series on terms and phrases from the strategic planning and risk management industries that I re-define for you and explain how you can apply them in your business.
Today, I’m discussing a really exciting topic, one that I started using this concept when I realized that I did not understand the role of my staff while in a director role. I had just been hired in my first manager job. It was a lot of responsibility, but I learned really fast that my staff knew a heck of a lot more about our business needs than I did.
Instead of trying to sound better or more intelligent, I wanted to experience what it was like at their level; not in a negative way, but to learn more about their point of view. I didn’t like the feeling of being “above” them in title, decision-making, and even location (my office was on another side of the building).
So I decided to spend 3 days sitting with my staff, dressing down (instead of wearing suits, heels, and hose). And just spend time learning from them.
During my investigation, I asked 3 questions. You can read more about it in my article, What Happened When I Became an “Employee For a Day.
Let’s define: What is an “Employee For a Day”?
It’s the simple practice of
“sitting in the seat” of employees (especially Foundational Staff) to gain first-hand knowledge of organizational challenges from the employee’s point of view in a way that is not possible at a leadership level.
Whether you started at the bottom of an organization and worked your way up; or had job experiences at a staff level cleaning floors, washing dishes, caring for patients, and eventually moved into a management role; or if you just jumped straight from college to a management role (which is possible), you realize the importance of staff and how they see the world.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in management problems and the level of strategic leadership that we literally don’t think anyone else can do our job the way we can.
That’s a fallacy.
I don’t believe strategic planning only belongs at the top level. I have heard CEOs and other leaders say that. I think it’s a misnomer, because that takes the power and belongingness out of the process of strategic planning. Lower-level staff should be involved in defining how the company should move forward. In fact, I think they have a lot more insights into this than some leaders at the top (I have been there). This mentality that “we know everything” is what I call Corporate Ladder Bias.
Foundational Staff are people at the lowest level of an organization who do the cooking, cleaning, serving, and fixing. They take care of details that keep the organization running. Without them, processes would completely fall apart.
Being an Employee for a Day in one of the 4 types of Foundational Staff, can give you a completely different perspective. It will ingratiate your staff to you; they will appreciate you more as a leader.
And it could potentially affect the way you look at strategic planning. Because you won’t be the same after you sit in the seat of your employees.
Check out more Let’s Define videos, or leave a comment to share your thoughts!
Interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace? Find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.
Find more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @lacontestrategy.