I frequently passed by a building in downtown Ottawa where I often saw a particular Facilities’ employee working outside. He first made himself known to me one stormy night by asking me if the sidewalks looked good. I stopped, looked down at the long length of sidewalk and noticed yes, the sidewalks looked very well groomed indeed; and I told him as much. He then took his large broom and proceeded to continue fine-tuning his handy-work. Since that first interaction, I found myself noticing the sidewalk and its supreme state of maintenance and it soon became part of my chosen walking route, especially through inclement weather.

On another occasion the following autumn, I was walking along this same sidewalk and noticed this employee seemed highly engaged in clearing the sidewalk – rake and shovel in hand. He suddenly yelped as he saw leaves falling from one of the trees lining the sidewalk and ran over to gather the newly fallen offenders. He did this repeatedly as the wind would blow more leaves off the trees and I knew this gentleman was in for a very long shift.

Yes, this is a true story.

Seeing this gentleman running from leaf to leaf brought a smile to my entire face and I was hit with sudden realizations of what this man represented – no matter the position or level, having the right person for the job was paramount. As I see it, here’s what having this employee in this role meant to the big picture:


The sidewalks were as safe as they could be, sure; but it could not have been a secret this man was good… real good… at doing his job; and so trust in him was not only deserved but would have surely been given. In turn, people also gave the trust to the building.

Business Development

Care and pride reflected in this employee’s work and I could only guess at how many people chose as I did to make this part of their path. More so, many of the storefront businesses in this building became part of my routine stops for purchases and it seems like this person, or this decision to have this employee in this role, impacted the businesses as a result.

Strengths and Engagement

This man’s skills, competencies and strengths were put to use – and there is no doubt in my mind this contributed to his observable engagement. This engagement positively impacts productivity and quality of work. It is my hope he is recognized for his contributions as this would in turn contribute to his increased engagement furthering the cycle in a positive direction.

As leaders, through our decisions and actions in enforcing this Human Resources best practice, we can enable each person to make a difference, contributing to the overall success of the organization. Having the right person in the right job is the right decision, no matter what.

Terri Harrison is the co-founder and director of consulting services of tap Strategy & HR Consulting, a boutique-style management consulting firm specializing in strategy, HR services and coaching.