A few hours hanging off the back a garbage truck taught Larry O’Donnell more the ever learned in law school. For instance, he never knew that female drivers have to pee in a little tin can they keep stashed in the cab. The Waste Management COO who oversees $13 billion in business and 20 million customers had never stopped to think about where his 45,000 employees use the bathroom. “It is my failure to not have thought about that,” he says. “We need to make sure that we have a stop on people’s routes.”
Larry rode the trash route as part of a new CBS reality show called Undercover Boss. But you don’t have to wait until February 7 for the premier, because you can play along right in your very own workplace.
Spend an hour in someone’s shoes this week. Literally.
Pick someone, anyone, and spend an hour doing their job. Sit in their seat. Is it comfortable? Can you see? Do you have the tools you need? Perform their role. Is it harder than you thought? Do the systems hold you back or help you? Take their break. Can you eat in that amount to time? Are your facilities adequate? Imagine you had to take home their paycheck. Could you feed your family, pay the doctor and go to a movie?
Now invite someone to walk in your shoes for an hour. Can they feel the pressure? Do they switch from running shoes to dancing shoes to steel toed boots with ease, like you do as you switch roles with every interruption?
In ancient civilizations, covenants were sealed by exchanging a shoe. This personal, valuable, malleable story was essential to nomadic travelers. Exchanging shoes represented sharing part of yourself and walking alongside someone on your journey.
Would you trade shoes with your staff?