Frustrated employers frequently ask themselves
and each other about what employees want.
If you are a fellow employer, having to deal with the day to day
challenges of employee requests, suggestions, complaints or drama, you know what
I mean and you know it is not as simple as asking the employee.
I’ve been making it my business to ask employees. I try learning from my
own, but because of the complex relationship employers have with employees, and
because I want larger numbers of employees to study, I find it easier to learn
from the employees of other companies.
If someone else controls your ability to have the hours you want, the
schedule you want, the promotion you want and entirely, the income you make, you
might feel less than excited about being totally honest in discussing what it is
you want. Such honesty would require a great deal of trust, self-confidence and
a positive attitude that may have already been beaten out of you over the
years. I have the pleasure of
working with relatively large numbers of employees of my client organizations.
The anecdotal evidence I see, is interesting enough, but when I can start to see
commonalities across the spectrum, I find it downright fascinating.
When asked outright, most employees do not know
what they want, or do not know how to answer the question. I think they know it
when they see it or feel it, but it’s very difficult to describe, and the
question is even difficult to comprehend, since in real life, their wants have
little to do with their job anyway. A little cynical, right? To be fair,
when asked, most employers don’t really know what they want either. Based on
what I’ve learned over the years, influenced more heavily by local research
through this year, I see two aspects of this as a challenge we can overcome and
I see great opportunity for improved productivity, financial success and
personal happiness. First, organizations don’t know what they want. Second,
individuals don’t know what’s really important to them personally, so even if
they knew what their employer’s goals were, they wouldn’t see how it relates to
fulfilling anything for them personally.
Finally, the opportunity for greatness is right in front of us when these
two problems are resolved. Nearly 100% of employees agree that there is more
talent, creativity and passion available among them, that is underutilized, or
even undesired by their employer, who is at the same time, asking for more
productivity, creativity and passion. It seems so obvious and simple, doesn’t
it? Simple things are not always easy to execute, so let’s start at the
First, most individuals and organizations lack
specific goals they can clearly state. This is true of most businesses, most
not-for-profits, most business owners and most managers.
It seems pretty obvious that every organization needs to have a clearly
stated mission if it expects to achieve anything close to greatness. Forget
greatness. Let’s just have a fighting chance at developing a strategy or simply
to communicate with staff, financial backers and clients. If
this is so obvious, and it’s not hard to do, why do I keep finding so many
lacking? Do it already! What’s more, is if it is so obvious that organizations
need to have a mission, some goals, and a strategy, why is it not obvious that
individuals need the same things?
I find too many people live their life reacting to situations
over which they think they have no control. Most students leaving high school
think about what they want to do with their lives. That is often the last time
many people think about what they want. Somewhere along the way, they compromise
and take jobs they don’t want and life marches on. Add to the unwanted job, the
rent or the mortgage being due, or children take over any last glimmer of
financial or personal freedom, and they submit to simply reacting to whatever
life throws at them next. They get up every day to see what fresh new hell
awaits them, until they count down the days to retirement. Have I gotten you
sufficiently depressed yet? Now imagine asking this per person, who has every
reason to feel cynical, what it is they want from their boss! That is almost
laughable, isn’t it?! Yet, we
aren’t going to get anywhere unless we know what we want.
Let’s start with that. One of the tools I give my seminar students is a
personal mission statement builder website. Anyone with Internet access can do this
by themselves, for free. Go to www.franklincovey.com/msbsign in with your email
address, study the inspirational mission statements of others if you like, and
then complete the form. When you’re
done, you will have the option of printing out a suggested personal mission
statement, based on your input. Is it perfect? I think it’s pretty close, and at
it’s very worst, it’s a great place to start figuring out what it is you want in
your life and to begin bringing it to reality. You will have a much clearer
sense of what you value and don’t value about your relationships, your home,
your career path, your attitude, your behaviors –it’s an amazing new insight.
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He
may be reached through his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail,