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Heroes in the Workplace: Good or Bad?

A common definition of a hero is a person who is typically admired for his or her courage and noble qualities, many “heroes” in the workplace are admired for similar reasons. The heroes within organizations are often the “go to” people in times of crisis or intense need. These heroic employees pride themselves on knowing and understanding specific processes within the business and guarding their imperative knowledge with a lock and key. Although these heroic people are often great at soaring down to facilitate when a problem arises they are often quick to leave when solutions are being determined so specific problems don’t happen again. Why is this? It is most likely because the hero is afraid of losing the actual “hero” status that he or she has worked so hard to uphold. This can spell trouble in many business situations, especially the businesses that practice the lean mindset which is all about eliminating problems and preventing them before they are able to surface and cause issues.

Let’s take a step back here, should a hero really be someone who comes in to fix a problem just to reap the rewards in recognition and admiration, and then leave only to be present when another major issue arises? Or is a hero someone who is willing to share learned information about processes within a business and be fully involved when looking for ways to stop problems from happening even before they become a possibility? The second option seems to uphold more of a hero mindset in many situations.

How to Turn a Crisis Hero into a Preventative Hero

Well this can be a rather tricky and sticky task. In many cases, heroes within businesses are so afraid of not being needed and recognized that they are unwilling to share all of their knowledge in specific areas. In order to change this mindset, patience and perseverance often supersede. Heroes are often valuable employees to the company and tend to take their jobs seriously. They are committed to their employers and should be recognized for that first and foremost. However, once that has been established heroes need to be involved in brainstorming and planning sessions regarding their expertise. This make heroes feel as though they are in a safe and in a valued position with pertinent knowledge to share which also helps to boost morale. Remember, the key is to make the hero still feel heroic but in a different way, on a more preventative level. Once certain processes have been revised using the preventative information supplied by the hero, he or she should be recognized for his or her dedication to the preventative project as well.

Keeping Lean with the Help of Preventative Heroes

Heroes can and do exist within many business corporations, however, in order to keep lean practices truly lean the hero needs to be a part of the preventative movement. When it comes to lean, everything is looked at from planning to processes to products, and when determined and committed employees are involved in this practice they can too become preventative heroes.

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