When my brother, sister and I were growing up our dad encouraged us to be what he called “mudders”. By mudders he meant being people who were willing to get down in the mud and do the hard work. Every time I heard him say the word mudder I’d have this mental picture of wearing overalls, putting on big rubber boots, and digging a ditch after it rained.
In addition to valuing hard work I believed part of my dad intention was to help us understand that no work was beneath us, even manual, dirty labor, if it adds value to the lives of others.
These two complimentary attitudes – valuing hard work and believing no good work is ever below us – speaks to people at every level in an organization because every job has boring, menial and mundane parts to it. If we approach these parts of our jobs as mudders it encourages us to do this work with both timeliness and quality, and it keeps us from allowing the boring work to drag us down.
Being a mudder is especially critical in customer focused organizations. Because at any given moment one of our staff members can be asked by a customer (they don’t usually care about title and position) for assistance that requires manual or menial work. And of course outstanding customer service requires that staff be willing, with a sincere smile, no matter the job, to help the customer.
More importantly, as leaders, when we’re willing to be mudders, we set an example for everyone in the organization. If we embrace doing the purposeful but menial and dirty work as much as the exciting and challenging work, we help those we lead also become mudders. And a team of mudders doing all the necessary work, including the menial, dirty and mundane jobs assures that all organization’s work gets done and done well.