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Why getting your hands dirty is good

10 July 2018

I was travelling for work recently and had a really interesting conversation with a stranger (over wine of course!) about our views on work and how we’re trying to raise our families.

I mentioned that I think it’s really important for kids to help clean the house and to get a casual job as soon as possible so they can learn the value of money and the satisfaction that comes with doing something someone values.

My companion’s response was explosive: “There’s no way on earth I would let my kids clean toilets! You should never let your kids clean toilets! They are better than that!”

I said that one of my biggest fears is that my kids will grow up thinking that they are above other people and take for granted the privileged life they have. I tried to persuade him that doing menial work makes you a better human being because you are more likely to treat other people who do it with respect.

My acquaintance was unmoved.

It got me thinking about the work that companies outsource because it’s boring, or difficult or ‘beneath them’. Often this work is the ‘soft’ stuff like developing their people, dealing with their customers, and managing contracts with suppliers and partners.

This is the work that keeps things real.

Instead of spending a bucket load of time and money staring at data to try and find out what’s really happening in your organisation, consider doing some ‘dirty work’ instead. Work in your call centre or your warehouse, do deliveries to customers, help shortlist candidates for entry level positions or go and see your most important suppliers at their office for a change.

You might find that things look very different when you view them from the bottom rather than the top.

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