It is summer, a time when most of us take at least a couple of days to enjoy with family, friends and do something different than the usual day-to-day business of working. It has gotten me to thinking about why we tend to hate work. Additionally, there have been a large number of blogs, articles, and other surveys as to why we hate work.
The reasons that you tend to find are not what one might expect. No we aren’t lazy. No its not that we don’t care. No it is not usually about salary or specific benefits. It is something more basic – it is about respect, recognition, and growth.
All of us need to earn a wage in order to exist in our society, so salary and pay are part of the equation. But, it isn’t always about the money. Look at Lebron James – he is moving back to Cleveland at a lower salary and the reason he left in the first place wasn’t about salary – it was about the ring. Recognition.
We get frustrated at our places of employment, when:
- A person is praised for something that they really didn’t do.
- There are double standards that don’t appear justified – for example Joe comes in late and leaves early everyday, and doesn’t meet goals, while some one else is “punished” for occasionally doing the same thing but exceeds their goals.
- The wrong types of performance is recognized – some one is praised for bring in one contract at a high dollar value, while the person sitting at the next desk brings in 30 contracts at incrementally small values – (but may actually exceed the big one).
- Mediocrity is tolerated.
- Stated goals don’t match what is rewarded – for example: meeting customers expectations is touted but ensuring that client pays is more important.
- Rewards are the same or based on arbitrary criteria.
- Not understanding the people nature of work – relationships are important.
I am sure that you can add to the list. The bottom line is that while there are business drivers for decisions, you have to address the human side of business as well. Everyone is going to make a mistake or maybe not make the best decision, how the situation is handled will impact your human capital side of the business to a great degree.
Your key players – the stars and the everyday loyal steady players – need care and attention. These are ones that will shut down on the job and will be shopping their resume’s. If they are unhappy, your profits, your innovations, and ultimately the overall success of the business goes out the window.
As a leader, you have to think about two things when you are dealing with people:
1) How is my action going to be taken by the person directly involved?
2) How is my action going to be perceived by other individuals in the organization?
Here is an example: you have an employee that is not performing up to standard and you give them chance after chance after chance, even a raise here and there. (We all know of situations like this – you may be keeping that person because of a historic relationship or due to a specific skill or because one client likes them.) You have other employees that are meeting expectations, putting in the extra effort, and are contributing on a regular basis. How does it look to the organization, if you recognize the mediocre employee in front of a group trying to improve their performance, while in the same meeting ask one of your regular contributors why a project is not meeting expectations?
We see leaders do this all the time. Part of the reason is that your regular contributors may understand what is going on – but junior staff may not. If this a rare occurrence, there may be no harm done – but if it is frequent – watch out.
The nature of the workplace and the nature of work has changed. There is no longer a loyalty of the employee to stay with a particular organization. Think about it – how long have most of the individuals been with your organization? You may begin to see a trend. Understanding that trend, and understanding that individuals are the intellectual capital of the organization may be the difference in your next innovation and your ability to compete.