When I first started out in the workforce, I was frustrated with poorly performing co-workers. I somehow imagined that if they did poorly at the job they were in, that they would do poorly in every job they took on. As I got older, I began to understand the pressures that combine to make an unsuccessful employee: toxic work cultures, unclear job definition and unsupportive managers. Also crucial: the fundamental fit between the person and the job.
Tom Bergerson, host of Dancing with the Stars, illustrated this well in his autobiography “I’m Hosting as Fast as I Can!” He spoke about an early job he took with a Boston company:
“They made flexible tubing. And, for three whole months, I was one of their customer-service representatives. However, as it turned out, I was to customer service what the Hindenburg was to air travel.
The company no longer exists. I blame myself.
It wasn’t intentional. It’s not like I didn’t try. I liked these people. I was grateful to be working again and paying down my debts. I was just really, really bad at it. I had the engaging-phone-skills pat down pat. If you were looking for flexible tubing and I answered your call, my tone suggesting bedrock dependability. That is, until I lost your paperwork.”
Bergeron went on to find immense success hosting Hollywood Squares, America’s Funniest Home Videos and Dancing with the Stars. He’s an outstanding emcee: witty, in-the-moment and demonstrates genuine care and concern for his guests. He also doesn’t have an paperwork in this job. His whole job is done when the camera turns off. It is the perfect role for him.
I believe that everyone can be extraordinary at work. But they have to be in the right role, with the right leaders and in the right company for them. I hope you’ll join me as I explore corporate culture, diversity, inclusion and other elements that are key to allowing everyone to be extraordinary at work.