In one company, a manager asked a team leader to assume responsibility for his “12 troublemakers” so he could get them off his major account. When the employees began to report to her, much to her surprise, she found she was managing “a corral full of stallions,” excellent performers who needed boundaries and an opportunity to provide input on how things could be improved. The team leader knew the value of these employees and was able to capitalize on this talented group of individuals.
Objectively, every employee should be “valued,” but not every employee in every job is “valuable.” Some employees are working in the wrong place; they are simply not the right person for the job; they don't have the qualities, characteristics, and ability to contribute. However, they may be valuable elsewhere in the company. The fact that they are not "valuable" in this job does not mean I shouldn't respect or appreciate (value) them as a people.
Managers require maturity to understand the difference between "valued" and "valuable." They have difficulty assessing how valuable an employee is for many reasons. Some organizations have poor job definition, leaving managers to say, “How can I assess whether employees are a good fit if I don't know what I'm trying to fit them into?” Managers may have personality conflicts with some employees who “push their buttons;” they are never able to assess them fairly. Finally, some managers have poor management skills; if they do not have the skill of “assessing and coaching,” then they are unable to judge an employee’s fit for a job.
The manager who asked the team leader to take the 12 rebels didn't value the people, nor recognize that they could contribute (could be valuable) somewhere else in the organization. He failed because the job of a manager is not to label (i.e., “troublemakers”), but to help employees succeed.
“Teaming” between an employee and the company is an essential component of having a valuable employee. The company’s role is to identify a person who has the right attributes for the job (the company recruits, hires, orients, and trains well). And, the company has a job description that is well-understood by both parties. The employee’s role is to “step up to the plate” to learn, contribute to the objectives, and encourage others (i.e., be a team player). We need to see in a human being a desire to contribute. The employee is not always perfect, but we see characteristics and abilities that we admire; we are willing to team with him or her to get the job done. We, as managers, are constantly assessing and managing the fit.
Do you know who your valuable employees are? Are you teaming with them for success?