The janitor story
August 21, 2006 Leave a comment
The author of True to Our Roots provides a great story about the power of motivation in the workplace. The context of the story revolves around the power of creating the right environment where people feel they are obtaining much more than a paycheck. (I plan to write some more on this topic after I’m finished with True to Our Roots.) Here’s a paraphrased version of the story.
A management consultant has been brought into a hospital to look for ways to improve processes, productivity, etc. The consultant interviews all the doctors, nurses, HR staff, and etcetera for weeks. As he’s leaving one Friday, he notices a janitor mopping the floors near the elevator. Debating whether to even talk to the janitor, the consultant stops and asks him the opening question that he has used with all of the other staff. The question is simply to explain what role the person plays at the hospital. The janitor stops and thinks for a moment, and then says, “I help Doctor Johnson save lives.”
While a much more animated version of the story is described by the author, the point is incredibly clear, almost inspirational. It also provides a sharp reminder that we should look for things like this in our own work routines or find other means to accomplish what’s important to us as individuals.