Thursday, March 03, 2005

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The fact that the economy is picking up slowly should be good news for employers as well as for the people still out there looking for work. It's a gift to have the opportunity to think about the impact the recovery will have on their particular environments before it reaches a critical stage.

If you've been running your place well and choosing the right people to work for you, then you shouldn't have any serious trouble as the employment numbers improve. I'm guessing though, based on some recent statistics and from what I've heard anecdotally from friends and clients that that you're in the minority. It seems that even with some recent improvements, a lot of folks – approximately half the working population according to the numbers – are still miserable at work.

If you’re one of those people, I’ll tell you again – no amount of pay is worth doing something you detest, at least not for very long. We deserve to feel fulfilled in our lives and I’ve seen it proven over and over again that it’s possible, even under the direst circumstances. For those of you still feeling stuck, it usually it comes from some inner shift; when external shifts are necessary, they’re often far easier than we expect.

That’s not to say that we can’t expect to have down days too. It’s probably the German in me that believes in a strong work ethic that helps us battle our way through the tough times. Developing some sense of entitlement that we should love every minute of every day of our employment serves no useful purpose. Just because loyalty is significantly reduced on all sides these days doesn’t mean that the whole work ethic ought to go by the wayside too. On balance, though, if we can’t say that we feel good about what we do, shouldn’t we be doing something different? That goes both for management and for staff.

Managers, are you listening? Sooner or later, staff will figure this part out – or the economy will continue to rebound and you’ll be dealing with a seller’s market again instead of a buyer’s market. Either way, as soon as employees feel like they have better options, they’ll start making changes that will impact you. Perhaps you’ve already begun to notice the shifts.

If you’ve been treating people well all along and creating an environment conducive to good productivity, then most likely you’ll be further rewarded for your efforts. If you’ve been one of those who has gotten complacent and at least subconsciously counted on the fact that your staff all feel stuck and without other options, it’s starting to look like you won’t have that hammer much longer. Now is a good time to plan what sort of meaningful changes you want to make in yourself and your work environment to improve your chances of success down the road.

Offering training is a good start. Not only does training help improve job performance, a recent SSPA survey detailed in Call Center Magazine confirms what many of us have known for a while – that training is a great motivator too. Geeks like to learn stuff so if you make that possible in addition to offering fair pay, you’ll be making some real progress toward closing the gap. Finding ways to improve your own skills, reconnect with what’s authentically you and helping your employees do the same is another key.

I’ve always believed we have the power to create our own sense of happiness, joy, and fulfillment – it’s not something that’s handed to us though it certainly helps to make the tools available by which this happens. To address this issue to some extent, I’m currently in the midst of facilitator training for Laura Berman Fortgang’s “Now What?: 90 Days to a New Life Direction” program. For anyone who might be interested, I plan to start offering this program to 1-1 clients and to small groups starting the end of April or early May. I figure it rounds out the leadership development I already offer on the corporate side of things.

What else are you doing as managers to ensure the health and productivity of your organization or what would you like to see done? Send your ideas to me at and let's start shaping a future worth having.

What are you doing to get or stay unstuck?