Many organizations see their employees as merely cogs in a giant machine. Cogs typically fit in just one place, have one use and can be easily replaced if they get worn out. While this might seem reasonable- after all, everyone was hired to do a specific job, it isn’t a very good way to manage your staff.
Putting staff into pre-determined boxes and not allowing them to stray far from their job descriptions absolutely kills creativity and morale. It also signals to others within the organization that certain people are not worth listening to. Staff members who try to take on new duties or share ideas that aren’t necessarily in their normal job realm are admonished to ‘stay in their lane’ and just do the job they’re being paid to do.
Good managers encourage their staff to grow and learn additional skills. They also listen to new ideas and are receptive to them. After all, a good idea is a good idea regardless of where it comes from- even when it comes from the janitor, as Frito Lay found out to its delight.
Richard Montanez is an immigrant who spoke and read little English. When he applied for a job at Frito Lay, his wife had to fill out his application. He was hired in as a janitor, but he had bigger aspirations. After a mishap resulted in some irregular Cheetos that had no cheese mix on them, he seized the opportunity to do some experimenting and came up with a recipe for spicier Cheetos. Since Frito Lay’s CEO had encouraged all staff members with new ideas to come forward, Richard called up the CEO and explained his idea. After recovering from the shock that a janitor had actually called him up with an idea, he invited Richard to present the idea to the board of directors. Richard put a ton of effort into mocking up a prototype bag and planning his presentation. The board was amazed and impressed. Ignoring the fact that he was “just a janitor”, they greenlit his idea and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were Born. They were a sensation, quickly becoming one of Frito Lay’s biggest sellers. Richard’s career skyrocketed and he was promoted into management. Imagine if Frito Lay had ignored Richard’s idea because he was “just a janitor”? They would have lost out on a multi-million dollar idea.