A few years ago, my staff members introduced themselves round-robin style to a visiting vendor. One by one, each told who he was and what he did for the company. Eventually we made it around the table to one of the newer members of my staff, who gave his name and said, “I’m just a web designer.”

I stopped the conversation right there.

It was really important to me that this person understood his contribution to the company–and that it had value. A company needs every employee, from the CEO to the accountant to the lathe operator to the groundskeeper to run successfully. Each part contributes something to the whole.

One of my favorite anecdotes from my professional experience was relayed to me years ago by the woman who cleaned our offices. She normally did her work after most people had left for the day, but one evening the then-CEO stuck around for a late meeting. When he saw her in the hallway, he pulled her into the board room and asked her to tell his visitor why she was important to our company. Though this exercise was totally unexpected and certainly unrehearsed, she didn’t miss a beat. She told the visitor what she did, why she did it, and how it fit into the company’s values. She was right on target.

No one is “just” an anything. We all offer an activity that is necessary to the success of our employer, or we wouldn’t be there. If you don’t know why you’re important, figure it out. Once you find your purpose, you’ll be amazed how it affects your performance. I’m willing to bet that others will notice, too.

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