Employee Satisfaction – It’s Not Rocket Science, Part II


In my last post I talked about the research done recently indicating that employee satisfaction across the country has tumbled to an all time low of 45%. I listed one key to creating organizational satisfaction and in this post I’d like to touch on two more.

Here’s two more reasons that organizations don’t often build a culture that drives employee satisfaction, and some ways to think differently about those challenges.

Organizations focus on accomplishments, not progress

Many of the organizations I’ve worked for or with are laser focused on what they need to get done but pay much less attention to how they get better at doing those things in the first place. One recently appointed CEO announced, “We have everything we need… to be the best financial services company in the world. What we need to do now is very simple. We need to execute.”

The real question that begs is how do the employees, who have virtually the same collective set of skills, experience and knowledge tomorrow that they have today, execute any better? It’s akin to saying that tomorrow I’m going to run faster, in spite of the fact that I’ve done nothing today to improve my running faster muscles. Oh and by the way, if you believe the research about employee satisfaction, organizational running faster muscles may be degenerating pretty quickly.

Companies and teams that focus on making their people better tomorrow than they were today won’t ever have to worry about how the organization will accomplish new and better things. Great leaders learn to ask is my team any better this week, not just did they produce more. They produced exactly what their level of commitment and abilities should have produced, and they will produce that again next week if those things don’t change.

Organizations care about the destination more than the journey

I’ve never seen a company meeting where they pull up the quarterly results and they have a column for engagement, excitement or satisfaction. I’m not suggesting that profit and loss shouldn’t be front and center but if you’re only paying attention to the results and not to the price you paid for it in employee engagement then the measurement is flawed. Burnout is real and people who dig deep without a real sense of accomplishment, will dig a little less deep next time. Too many times a business will celebrate a revenue number or a completed project but the people involved feel like it wasn’t a fair trade for the amount of themselves they gave up for it.

Just like we look at the top and bottom line on a profit and loss statement, good leaders understand that there is a cost for organizational achievement and if the employees feel like that is unbalanced, it may be that the real return was negative. We still have numbers to hit and projects to accomplish next month. Employees are either energized and excited about the next challenge, or they are dreading it. That energy, or lack of it, will go a long way toward determining the company’s success going forward.

One leader can make a huge difference. Go into any organization and, with your team, create a dream, focus on progress and help people enjoy the journey and it won’t be long before you’re in charge of an awful lot of people. If it’s your own business, try operating it that way for six months, and watch the difference it makes. Satisfied, engaged people who are growing and developing make your business better. It’s not rocket science unless you’re doing it at NASA but the results you get over time with these steps will become the giant leap needed to grow your business, not just for the quarter, but for years to come.

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