As you know from last week, I love the Misfit Toys. Besides the fact I just think they are cute, they make me empathize with them. Every single one of us has been a “misfit toy” AT LEAST once in our lives. On some level, somewhere with someone, we were a misfit. There is an excellent chance that we too have seen or created a misfit in the workplace. I saw one this weekend. I was out running a few quick errands and walked into a large, well-known retailer and was welcomed by a greeter at the front doors. Yes, she said hello. Yes, she asked if I needed a cart. Yes she was dressed in her appropriate “uniform” and even had a Santa hat on to complete the look. The problem? She was extremely shy, socially awkward and looked miserable. I felt sorry for her and wanted to help her! Sure we need to fill positions to best meet the needs of our company, but we should be cognizant of if they the right person for the job. And if at all possible, place the right people in the right positions. And if they aren’t, do what you must to create a better fit for all parties involved. Consider it the gift that keeps on giving.
The head elf even tells Hermey, “You’ll never fit in! Now you come to elf practice, learn how to wiggle your ears, chuckle warmly, go hee-hee and ho-ho, and important stuff like that. A dentist! Good grief! ” Soon, both Rudolph and Hermey are singing the same song; “Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. You can’t fire me, I quit. Seems I don’t fit in.”
As leaders, it is important that we have the right people in the right positions, matching an individual’s skills and desires with job function and team purpose. We also need to recognize when a team member shows an aptitude for another role. A good leader will help that person reach their career goal, rather than forcing them to be in a role they are clearly not a fit for.
Rudolph, feeling rejected, runs away and meets up with Hermey, on the road after quitting elf school. The two of them then meet Yukon Cornelius, the prospector who also doesn’t fit in with the general population. All three set out to try a find a place where they can fit in.
Rudolph, Hermey and Cornelius come upon the Island of Misfit Toys. There’s Charlie-in-the-box, Spotted Elephant, and more. Charlie is the sentry who welcomes them to the island. It is clear, as he bounces about, that he can be a great toy. The only thing “wrong” with him is his unexpected name. Spotted Elephant is cute and cuddly. He would make some little girl or boy a wonderful gift, except that his outside isn’t the color people would expect.
As leaders, we need an awareness of any pre-judgments we are attaching to people. Someone might not look or act the way we expect them to, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. A team member might not have the background we expected, but they might still be well-skilled for the job at hand. Are we minimizing people because of our ideas, rather than welcoming them for theirs? Are we treating them as mis-fits, just because they are a little different?
I would be remiss if I did not remind you that the blogs this month are from Eleanor Biddulph and her article, 6 Leadership Lessons from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Until next week…