“Everyone is replaceable.”

Sometimes I think I need to do a TED talk. I have so many thoughts and ideas about company culture, that I could probably write a book. (Add that to the list of about a dozen other books I want to write, but haven’t yet.)

natalie
My first year teaching at Troup High in LaGrange, Georgia was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced when it comes to workplace culture. It was truly a special place under the leadership of our principal.

I think we all have opinions about company culture, and what could improve it at our respective places of employment. For me, since graduating college 15 years ago, I have worked for seven different companies, schools, organizations, etc. I’ve seen only one place truly understand company culture and how to keep its employees happy while also getting the job done.

I’m willing to bet most people have never worked at a place with excellent morale or culture.

Granted, that doesn’t mean the place of employment doesn’t SAY they have excellent morale and company culture. Actually, most, if not all, leaders of organizations are convinced they DO have it together. That their employees are happy. That everyone feels valued.

While I could go into a lot of different areas concerning this topic, today I want to talk about what I believe is one of the easiest ways to show your employees that they are NOT valued. Simply utter the words, “Everyone is replaceable.”

It’s not that it isn’t true. But just because it’s true, does that mean you have to say it?

If you found out a friend had cancer, would you tell them, “Some people die from cancer.” Yes, it’s true. Some people die from cancer. But just because it’s true doesn’t mean it has to be verbalized. Especially if it will make someone feel like crap.

Guess what? Your spouse is replaceable. Go ahead and see how they feel if you go and tell them that today. (Please, DON’T!) That’s not something you would say to someone you value and care about. So don’t say it to your employees.

Supervisors, leaders: stop saying, “Everyone is replaceable.” It makes employees feel undervalued. And guess what? Employees who feel valued do a much better job. It’s a win-win for everyone if you stop telling people they are replaceable.

Also, look at the cost of hiring someone new. If you have an all-star employee you deem as “replaceable,” and they feel undervalued and leave, you’ve now got a position to fill, which takes company time, resources, and money.

But hey, “Everyone is replaceable.”

A simple way to improve your company culture- stop telling people they are replaceable. Even if it’s true. Stop saying it.

Imagine a company culture where every employee felt valued and important, not like they could be easily replaced. An organization with a culture like that would THRIVE.

I should note that I’m not pointing fingers at any one specific place I’ve worked. I’ve heard this phrase uttered at many places.

So, leaders, consider removing the phrase from your vocabulary. Just because it’s true, doesn’t mean it has to be said. As a matter of fact, I’d even say go so far as to make your staff feel like they are IRREPLACEABLE.

 

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Two years at one job. For me, that’s huge. And that’s OK.

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Natalie the teacher.

Newspaper reporter.
English teacher. (at four different high schools)
Marketing Assistant.
Customer Compliance Administrator. (I still don’t know what that is)
Communications Coordinator.
Director of Marketing & Donor Engagement.

You’d have to be crazy to look at my resume and not see a lot of perceived red flags. Some might argue that I’m a risky hire. I’m only 37, and I’ve already had three different careers. I haven’t worked at one location for more than two years since I graduated from Indiana University in 2004.

Until today. Today I have worked for two years at The Rescue Mission, a homeless ministry in Fort Wayne, Ind., and for the first time ever, I hope there are many years to come. I work at a job that I absolutely love. I love the people I work with. I love what I do each day. I love the people we serve. I’ve attained something few people in this world have: job satisfaction.

So was my job-hopping and searching for the right fit for me worth it? Absolutely.

There were certainly some rash decisions in there. For example, I was so determined to get out of teaching in 2012 that I accepted a job that paid almost half the annual salary I was making as a teacher. My debt skyrocketed that year. But I believe all of those crazy decisions led me to where I am now.

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Natalie the Director of Marketing & Donor Engagement.

My career is important to me. It’s been more important than starting a family. Would I rather have my own family right now, or a job that I love? I can say with certainty, a job I love. Granted, now that I have that piece in my life, I would love to have my own little family, but finding job satisfaction was apparently something I needed to attain first.

I would probably never tell a young person that job-hopping is a good idea, but if you can sit in an interview and explain each hop in a way that makes sense, you can certainly get somewhere. Clearly it never stopped anyone from hiring me. And because I never gave up on finding a career and employer that I love, I wake up every day happy to go to work.

Your career moves are your own. You can get a lot of great advice from other people, but it is ultimately your decision. Some decisions deemed “career suicide” are not always as bad as they seem.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the part my faith has played in all of this. God has always made it clear to me that what I do with my career should be honoring to Him. He also gave me the patience and perseverance over the years to not give up on finding work I love.

Today I celebrate two years at The Rescue Mission. It hasn’t been perfect. There have been days when I’ve cried in the bathroom. There have been times I’ve had to leave and go to Starbucks just to get away from someone who was irritating me. There have even been days I’ve hopped on Indeed.com.

But I haven’t touched my resume. It still reads that my most recent job was the one I was at two years before The Rescue Mission. And I don’t plan on updating it anytime soon.

Two years. For me, that’s huge. And that’s OK. I’ll never regret my journey to finding a job that I love and the fact that I never gave up on finding it.

My first year working for a homeless ministry…

dsc_0015bI still can’t believe I almost didn’t take this job. The only reason I was hesitant was because I had been at my previous job for only 8 months. Had I not listened to God’s obvious calling, I wouldn’t be at the greatest and most fulfilling job I have ever had. Yes, it took until I was 35 to find it.

It’s now been one year that I have been the Marketing Director of The Rescue Mission in Fort Wayne, Ind. I know that no job is perfect. But to be honest, I believe that this is as good as it gets. It’s the first Christian organization I’ve worked for where they actually practice what they preach- love, grace, and mercy, all while also having a firm foundation in TRUTH. I didn’t think it was possible.

I want to share a few things I’ve learned this past year, my first year working for The Rescue Mission, whose mission is: “To provide, through the power of Jesus Christ, a home for the homeless, food for the hungry, and hope for their future.”

14650670_10153778882461573_435273107762062935_nLesson #1: Christian women can be nice, non-judgmental, loving people

Seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it? While I’ve known many nice, non-judgmental, loving Christian women, I’ve known far more who weren’t, especially in the workplace. My faith has been completely restored in fellow Christian women this year. Don’t get me wrong, we do NOT always agree. There have been tough conversations. Women have hurt my feelings. I have hurt other women’s feelings. But we have the conversations that are necessary to move past them. I work with the most phenomenal women. I couldn’t ask for better women to have in my life, and the example they set has improved my faith and my walk with God.

Lesson #2: Everyone thinks they’re an expert on homelessness

20170113_142108-1New ideas can be groundbreaking. But they can also do more harm than good. I’ve learned this year that everyone has an idea of how to “solve” homelessness. These ideas typically come from people who haven’t even spent any time with the homeless. The Rescue Mission, on the other hand, is on the cutting edge of everything related to helping the homeless. We feed them. We give them shelter. We welcome them into our programming and show them how to find real change. But most importantly… we talk to them. Every single day. Our organization has been doing so for more than 100 years. And yet random people in the community think they have better ideas on how to help the homeless.

Lesson #3: Enabling is everywhere

real-change-logoI learned early on that enabling the homeless to stay homeless is very prevalent in our society. I sort of understood, but didn’t fully understand until I had a conversation with one of our residents.

This gentleman, in his 50’s, explained to me that people in town were keeping him homeless. Because they gave him everything he needed, he could easily stay homeless without being held accountable for anything. He could drink. He could do drugs. He didn’t have to get a job. Luckily, someone from The Rescue Mission offered him REAL CHANGE, and he entered the program. He told me, “With those people giving me everything I needed, I would have been homeless for the rest of my life.”

It’s tough to hear, especially when people’s hearts are in the right place, but it’s true. The whole idea of “toxic charity” and “when helping hurts” is a real issue. If you want to help the homeless, direct them to a place where they can change their lives. Don’t put a bandage on the problem. Don’t keep them homeless.

Lesson #4: Because of the nature of our clientele, there will be heartbreak

“Relapse is part of recovery,” they told me early on here at The Rescue Mission. Still, that didn’t make it any easier when people you grow to love and have so much hope for end up relapsing. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

But the worst heartbreak of the year, for me, was when one of our older residents relapsed. He had fought alcohol addiction from a very young age. He lost everything because of it. He had been sober for two years at The Rescue Mission, and for some reason, one day he just left and didn’t say goodbye to anyone. This was heartbreaking for many of us. He was so caring and loved the Lord. But he left. And he relapsed, and it lead to his death.

I didn’t expect this kind of heartache when I started working here. In one year we had three memorial services for men who died. But what I do know about those men is that they loved Jesus. I know that each of them is now with Him. Their battles with mental illness and addictions are over. Praise God for that!

Lesson #5: God works miracles in the homeless

fb_img_1467557409741Earl. Kha. Doug. Samantha. Shannon. Robert. Aimee. Jennifer. Kurt. Derricia. David. Renee. Dave. Mary. Rose. Demetrius. Vickie. Megan.

Those are the names of either residents who have completed the long-term program at The Rescue Mission in the past year, or residents who have told me their stories for newsletters and videos. And let me tell you, to put it bluntly, these people have been through hell.

For some of them, ending up homeless came because of addiction. For others, homelessness was due to mental illness. And still for others, it was devastating trauma that left them homeless. Some are in their 20’s, others in their 60’s. But their stories, as brutal and heartbreaking as they are, have taken a turn. They each ended up at The Rescue Mission. They each learned a new way to live life with a faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe in miracles. When I see the transformation in these people, I am blown away that God is so powerful that He can take a woman who was once sexually abused by her own father and make her into an amazing mother with a job and a house. He took a heroine dealer and user and made him into a young man on fire for God. He took a Vietnamese refugee, who spent 20 years in prison for attempted murder, and made him into one of the hardest and most ethical workers at a factory in town.

staff-collageI can’t wait to see what next year brings. I know there will be heartache. I know that 4th quarter (our “Super Bowl” season) will make me want to tear my hair out. I know that I’ll probably grumble when our CEO sends me a text about work before 8AM on a Saturday. But I also know that God is using us to do His work, and I have never felt more purpose in my life.

I don’t have a husband, or children, or even a cat or a dog. But thank you, God, for my career and place of employment. I have never been so fulfilled.

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”
1 Chronicles 16:11

Giving up on “the dream”…

There are 24 hours in a day. We spend at least eight of those hours at work.

There are seven days in a week. We work at least 40 hours of that week, which leaves 128 hours away from work if you work the typical 9-5 job. Work makes up approximately 1/4 of your week. The other 3/4 are spent with friends, family, sleeping, eating, working out, and doing things we love. That is, if you aren’t too stressed out about how you spend that 40+ hours of your week at work.

1012552_business_world_4Are we supposed to be miserable at our jobs? Is finding the perfect career a lost cause? Is it a waste of time?

I used to believe in doing everything possible to find my perfect career, but my dream is fading… maybe we’re just supposed to go to work, suffer through it, come home and go on with life.

I’m 32 years old and I’m on my third career. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a high school English/Journalism teacher, and now, a marketing assistant. Believe it or not, they do tie in to my experience, my B.A. in Journalism and my M.A. in Education.

Sometimes I feel weird when people ask me about my work history and I have to explain three different careers. I fear they think, “Wow- she can’t make up her mind!” (true) or “This girl can’t keep a job!” (not true) or even, “Give it up honey, you’re searching for a job that satisfies you and makes you happy, and it’s just not going to happen.” (maybe true) But for a long time, I didn’t care what people thought. We live one life- why not search for the perfect job for you until you find it? 1127694_woman_walking

At this point, I think a lot of us have given up on our career dreams, and we’d just like to at least find a job we don’t dread going to each day.

So is that it? Forget the dream, whatever it may be, and instead suffer through your job that gives you little to no satisfaction? To me it’s very sad that so many people get nothing out of their jobs, and they are doing nothing to fix it. On the other hand, I can see why they give up.

What do you think? Is a job just a job, or should we still try to find the career that’s perfect for each of us?

A few “money lies” need to stop…

Being financially responsible isn’t what I’ve been known for in my life. It’s probably the area I struggle with most. I’ve grown a lot in the past couple of years and have come a long way, so I guess I just have to keep improving in that area. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today I read an article on Yahoo! called “13 Money Lies You Should Stop Telling Yourself by Age 30.” It really made me realize how far I have come, because most of these lies, I don’t tell myself!

1. “So long as my job pays well, it’s OK if I hate it.”
If I was following that, I would still be teaching. People think teachers don’t make good money. Well when you’ve been teaching for five years and have a Master’s degree, it actually pays pretty good. And it pays a heck of a lot more than being a marketing assistant. I took a HUGE paycut when I changed careers. While my new job isn’t perfect (far from it), I’m much happier than I was when I was teaching.

2. “If I turn a blind eye, somehow my finances will figure themselves out.”
That was my mindset in college, absolutely. I thought credit cards were awesome. It was like free money! (dumb dumb dumb) And I kept spending and spending thinking everything would eventually work itself out on its own. Not at all. I’ve had to cut things out of my life to pay things off. That’s just how it is.

3. “I should get married because it’s the ‘next step’.”
Um, clearly I don’t believe that. Would I love to be married? Sure, but only to a great guy who makes me happy. I would never get married just to get married. I want to be in love more than I want to be married. People who get married just because they think it’s “the next step” typically don’t last long.

4. “Banks and bill collectors will get their way no matter what I do.”
This is one I need to work on. People say you can talk creditors into lower interest rates, etc. etc. I have never even tried. I should do that.

5. “I should buy a home because that’s what grown-ups do.”
I do feel this way sometimes. I hate that I’m 32 and don’t have my own house. They say renting is such a waste of money, but I don’t make enough money to make a house payment and all the other payments that come with owning a house. It’s one of the reasons I’m living in my parents’ house while they are in Florida. Trying to SAVE SAVE SAVE!

6. “If I start dipping into my savings now, I’ll have plenty of time to make up for it later.”
Savings? What’s that?! Just kidding. I try to stay away from my savings except for emergencies.

7. “I’m too inexperienced to start investing.”
Investing to me is scary. So maybe I do need to get with someone about investing.

8. “I’m a failure because I’m not making as much as other people my age.”
This one is why I’m really glad I read this article. For the first time in my life, I’m hating the fact that I’m not making a lot of money. Heck, I’m not even making decent money to be honest. It’s killing me and hurts my pride that I’m 32, with a graduate degree, and practically living paycheck to paycheck. According to the article though, “It’s been proven that the average person doesn’t get any happier after they earn $75,000 per year.” Good to know!

9. “I can still afford to eat like I’m 16.”
I know I can’t do that! That’s why I joined the YMCA. And I’ve definitely been eating healthier in the past four months. Snacks now consist of carrots, yogurt, and apple slices! I also eat at home more, and less eating out saves A LOT of money.

10. “I can still pull of the outfits I wore in college.”
There’s no way on earth I would wear some of the stuff I wore in college! I definitely dress more appropriately now that I’m a professional. I will continue to do so, even though it appears that most guys in Fort Wayne are looking for a trashy slut.

11. “If I get approved for new credit, obviously I can handle it.”
Oh heck I know for a fact I can’t handle it!

12. “I should have kids now because I want them.”
HA! I can barely afford myself right now, let alone kids. Those can come after I’m married and have a working husband to help out.

13. “I’m pretty much invincible.”
Haven’t felt that way since my early 20’s. I think I have a few friends though that think this about themselves!

So there you have it! To those of you older than 30, what do you think about this list? Do you agree? Why or why not?