Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville, NC

March 2010

The muse is with me. For the past six weeks, I've been madly working on my newest book, Becoming: A Seeker's Journey to Answer Life's Two Most Important Questions. I'm in the flow; about 70 percent of the book is framed in.

Increasingly professionals who have benefited from my book and workshop "Engineer Your Career" are asking, "What's next?" They have successfully used the four Ps to package, present, and promote their best selves and now want to bring more power, passion, and purpose to their careers and lives.

I am learning that if I am truly going to help people stand in their power, I need to take this work deeper. The four Ps model was designed to address those issues normally associated with the first half of life. While packaging, presenting, and promoting yourself is paramount to becoming a stronger communicator and leader, it will not ensure that you become your best self and live your best life.

Becoming and its companion workshop "Engineer Your Life" take a more global view of life and career. In them, I invite readers and participants to see their lives more holistically, from 50,000 feet, in order to determine what's really important to them and their ultimate happiness.

As you can tell, I'm fired up about these new offerings, and I look forward to telling you more about them as they unfold.

This month, I'll share some startling statistics on worker satisfaction and what smart companies are doing to retain their brightest employees.

Employers and Managers, Take Heed

Could corporate America finally be waking up? Deloitte recently released the results of its year-long longitudinal study "Managing Talent in a Turbulent Economy." In it, they reported that many companies are realizing they can no longer depend on the recession to help them recruit and retain talent. The majority of American workers are unhappy with their jobs, and as soon as the economy improves they'll be seeking employment elsewhere.

This year, the Conference Board research group released a survey reporting that more than 55 percent of Americans are unhappy in their jobs. That's the highest percentage the Conference Board has reported in its twenty-two years of following this issue.

Workers under twenty-five expressed the highest level of dissatisfaction. Roughly 64 percent of these workers said they were unhappy in their jobs. The recession has been especially hard on young people, who now face fewer opportunities and lower wages, some analysts say.

The most satisfied workers were those ages twenty-five to thirty-four; they see more opportunities for upward mobility as baby boomers retire. Around 47 percent of these workers said they were happy in their jobs.

If the job satisfaction trend is not reversed, it could stifle innovation and hurt America's competitiveness and productivity. Additionally, it could make unhappy older workers less inclined to take the time to share their knowledge and skills with younger workers.

One clue that may explain workers' growing dissatisfaction is their boredom with their jobs. Only 51 percent now find their jobs interesting, compared to nearly 70 percent who said they were interested in their work in 1987. Workers who are engaged at work are more productive, innovative, and more likely to take calculated risks.

Employees want to continue to grow and develop job and career enhancing skills. In fact, the opportunity to continue to grow and develop through training and development is one of the most important factors in employee motivation and retention.

Smart companies are investing again in their high-potential employees. According to Deloitte, 60 percent of surveyed executives from companies that foresee no additional layoffs plan to increase programs for developing high-potential employees, compared to just 34 percent that plan more cutbacks in the coming quarter.

Most surveyed executives agree that leadership is important and believe their companies are working to develop it. Yet a significant number of respondents are not employing the full range of tools and tactics required for an effective leadership development strategy.

Anecdotally, my training business is beginning to pick up from last year's slump. That said, so has the number of men and women calling me to help them package, present, and promote themselves for a new job.

If you are an employer or manager, take heed. Now is the time to invest in your people's happiness if you want to recruit and retain the brightest talent.