Recently, I spent the weekend at a mine in Herkimer County, New York digging for diamonds. That’s right — my family and I spent hours out in the hot sun banging on rocks in search of the elusive Herkimer diamonds that are found deep inside dull gray rocks (called Dolomite) only found in this area of the world. The rocks are bumpy and often found near other fossils from 2 billion years ago. When the right rock is cracked open, inside are clusters of these brilliant crystals.

It’s hard to believe that something so beautiful comes out of an ugly looking rock just laying around waiting to be found!

Here’s a picture of a Herkimer diamond as found in a rock:

herkimer diamondImage Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Employees are not rocks

In a way, employees can be a lot like these hidden gems. They may come to work each day and do their tasks and never get noticed much. But they are always reliably providing valuable services and support to the companies they work for. They are the foundation of a well-functioning company. But, sometimes these types of employees get overlooked for promotions, praise, and the things that they deserve. Very often, managers pass by their desks without so much as a second glance.

Who are these diamonds in the rough employees?

You may have several employees just like the ones described above. You may have encountered them in the company break room, during company events, or spotted them still busily working away while other employees are jabbering at the water cooler. They tend to keep to themselves most of the time and they remain under the company radar. They don’t cause problems. They take instructions well and seem to care about the work that they produce. They arrive to work on time and they go the extra mile when needed. They are sources of information and they enjoy helping others when asked.

Take notice of your gem employees

As an employer, it’s very important to notice these gems of employees. It’s time to take the attention off of attention-seeking, drama-inducing, and whiney employees and put the focus back on the employees who are more deserving of time and effort. Throughout the year, take the time to notice and recognize these quiet heroes that are found in your workplace. They are valuable contributors and they are what makes the company function as well as it does. Create a culture at work that honors the achievements of all and supports their dreams too. Even if they do seem small, make them big!

And by the way, while I did not personally find a Herkimer diamond during my trip, my husband and son both did. It takes time to develop the skills of a serious miner apparently. With patience and practice, you can also spot your own gems around the workplace.