At the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, there is a working paleontology laboratory that manages the sorting, classification and archiving of the bone and plant remains that are found in the tar pits. Rather than be hidden in the bowels of the building as some behind-the-scenes functions are, this lab is glass enclosed and the work is in full view of the visitors.

People can see the scientists painstakingly sorting through deposits with a small artist’s paintbrush, looking for the bone remnants that may be found within them. The facility has over 1 million specimens from 650 species logged and categorized with the specific date and quadrant in which they were found.

I watched the sorting process for about a minute and already was bored. I can’t even imagine a job where you peer through a microscope dusting off a handful of sediment looking for a bone chip with a paintbrush. Then I learned that those performing the tasks are volunteers! The lab only has three paid staff with the remaining work done by those who willingly donate their time to do it.

The La Brea Tar Pits are a great example of matching interests with needs. They have developed a way to recruit and train those with an interest in their work, and to do it at a consistent enough level to run the operation.

There is a job for everyone. How can your organization excavate the talent pool to pair the work with those most interested in performing it – even if they are doing it for free?

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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