381. How do you go to work?

381. How do you go to work?


You get up every morning and you go to work. Work occupies an enormous part of your life

The question is this: when you leave for work in the morning do you do so grudgingly or willingly?

More than 20 years of working as a consultant in many different organizations and across a broad range of industries, in both the private and public sectors, and having conducted interviews and surveys with thousands of employees, has convinced me that employees come to work either because they want to or because they have to.

And sadly, my findings have led me to believe that grudgingly outnumbers willingly by about 2 to 1.

Here’s the interesting part; whenever I conduct an interview with the person who tells me they are a grudging employee, I always ask if that were true the morning they arrived at work on the first day of the job.

And the answer, predictably, never changes. It is a resounding no

Which means between day one and now – be it two months or 20 years – something has changed causing those folks to shift from being willing to grudging participants, from coming to work because they have to and no longer because they want to.

So, what happened?

For many years, in my company, we have conducted Exit Interviews. These are interviews with people who have resigned from their jobs and our mission in conducting these discussions is to discover their reasons for leaving and illicit their viewpoints on a host of other topics of interest to their employer.

Certainly, there are those who tell us their primary reason for leaving the company is financial – they have found, or are seeking, greater financial reward elsewhere. The folks who tell us this represent fewer than 5% of those we interview.

There are those who give as the reason for leaving their decision to change careers by changing their profession as they no longer wish to continue doing the kind of type of work that is available with their present employer. They too represent a tiny portion of the total.

Another small percentage provide us with a mixed bag of reasons leaving us with the primary cause more and more people share with us as their principal reason for moving on.

And what is that reason?

The number one reason people share with us for quitting their job is their perception – real or imagined – of how they are treated, and the degree to which they feel unappreciated.

We always ask for examples and, while we are not investigators and take no steps to verify the truthfulness of what we are told, hearing the same things repeatedly from so many different people, in so many different organizations has led me to unequivocally believe that the following list of poor behaviour still exists in organizations today.

Here is a top 10 list of complaints people have shared with us in surveys and exit interviews.

  • Being reprimanded in public.
  • Being publicly humiliated, e.g., being told to shut up or to grow a brain or being reminded, “a monkey could do your job – probably more efficiently than you.”
  • Receiving only critical feedback. (A 2008 study on criticism vs. praise in the workplace revealed a disturbing ratio of 53 critical comments for each praising statement).
  • Managers who will not deal with conflict and instead choose to ignore it in the hopes it will go away.
  • Receiving no feedback after submitting suggestions.
  • Constantly being reminded you are “only a…” or “just a…”.
  • One set of rules for some, another set for others.
  • Being bullied. (This is a very difficult allegation to gauge as it is highly subject to interpretation).
  • Unmanageable workloads with constant “dumping” of additional work to be completed in impossible deadlines.
  • Having no voice. A disempowering feeling of not being listened to, which contributes to a strong sense of not being valued.

It is estimated that the cost of replacing a skilled and talented employee ranges from 0.5 to 3.5 times their annual income and yet each week, as we conduct exit interviews, we hear stories of people being driven away by behaviours like those above.

It’s hard to believe that in 2016 these behaviours are still prevalent, but it’s even more difficult to imagine under what possible theory the perpetrators of these behaviours can possibly believe these to be acceptable.

Great organizations cannot be built without something known as “Discretionary Effort.”

Discretionary effort is the “secret sauce” for developing greatness. It cannot be mandated and can only be fostered by an environment conducive to doing so.

More on this next week.

Till we read again.

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