DON'T IMAGINE THAT YOUR AUDIENCE ARE NAKED - IMAGINE THE OPPOSITE
May 4, 2016
WHY YOUR STAFF HATE THEIR JOBS AND 5 WAYS TO CHANGE IT
May 17, 2016
Yesterday whilst waiting for the train at Wimbledon, I started contemplating on Professor Barry Schwartz’s article Why We're So Unhappy With Work — And How to Fix It. When I saw the title, I immediately thought: “This is going to get a lot of views” and indeed at the time of writing the stats were: 124,518 views, 1,061 likes and 240 comments.
Professor Schwartz starts his post referring to Adam Smith’s view that people are lazy by nature and work only for the money, and how it has shaped the way we work now. Indeed, have you asked yourself if you really like your job?
Many years ago when I had just discovered life-coaching and its principles, i.e. unconditional belief in human potential and people’s capacity to change their lives, I made it my mission to make everyone pursue their dreams and passions. Since you are still in the job you hate, you can tell that I have failed… But back to the point. I would ask everyone I met: "If you could do anything you like for a living, what would it be?" (TIP: You will build instant rapport with a stranger if you ask them what they are really passionate about). I would get the most fascinating answers from people, but none of their answers referred to the job they actually did for money. Of course, there were the selected few who would answer: “Well, I really like my job.” But they either didn’t understand the question or they had never thought about the idea of doing what they really like for a living, which was really sad. In order for them to understand me, I actually had to reword the question and then I started getting interesting answers. Mind you, at that moment their minds probably opened up to a new idea and they realised they hated their jobs after all. In fact, most people don’t realise that they hate their jobs. They just accept them as they are and we are creatures of habit – we can get used to anything.
I spent a few years asking that question and, sadly, up until now I’ve only met a few people who love what they do.
One of the reasons for it is the lack of flexibility among recruiters. Candidates are judged on what they have done, not on their potential, ideas, motivation and what they can offer to the company. How many times have you told someone or have been told: “We really liked you as a person, we thought you interviewed well and that you have a great knowledge of X but we’ve found someone with more relevant experience.” I remember lecturing at one of London universities and telling students that looking for a job is like looking for a partner. It’s not about ticking all the boxes. It’s about the right match. I think instead of saying that to students, I should start saying it to the recruiters.
But what can we do to prevent this or at least “alleviate the suffering” of those who have already been hired and hate their jobs? Below are my suggestions:
1. Embrace career changers who are passionate about the role
Career change is tough. Recruiters tend to view it as indecision. I personally view it as a thirst for knowledge and development. Most career changers have to take a pay cut if they want to make a complete change and start from the bottom. Hence, a lot of people prefer to stay where they are. You can’t blame them. Your financial commitments grow proportionally to your earnings. It’s safer to stay where they are and accept their lot. But will an unmotivated but experienced employee benefit your organisation in the long run?
Look at the job description and the candidate’s CV. Can the experience required be learnt on the job within a reasonable amount of time? If yes, offer them the job. Career change takes tremendous effort and motivation. Hiring a passionate career changer is a long-term investment. Not only will they appreciate the role more than someone who has been doing a similar thing for years, but also, coming from a different background, they will have an innovative take on the role and might bring in the ideas your team haven’t thought of before.
2. Find out what other skills your team members have and offer them secondments and projects
I remember during an HR team day at one of my former employer’s, I said during a presentation: “We all have more skills than the ones we have been hired for.” To be honest, I was mainly talking about myself but, to my surprise, all the 50 people in the room started nodding and hmm-ing in agreement.
Contrary to the aforementioned Adam Smith’s views, most of us want to learn at work, grow our expertise and enrich our experience. Secondments and projects are good opportunities for your staff to gain new skills without having to change jobs. That way you develop your staff and, as a result, are more likely to retain them. Regardless of the size of your organisation, I’m sure you can find a project or a secondment that will suit a team member’s experience and interests. They will appreciate the opportunity and enjoy learning something new.
3. Do not micromanage
Naturally, at the beginning we all need to be introduced to the way the company processes work but once we have learnt the ropes, we want to take ownership of the job. Micromanagement, even though you might have the best intentions, will give the impression that you don’t trust your team.
In fact, do the opposite. Give them a sense of autonomy, allow them to make their mark and invite them to suggest improvements. Most people want to have an impression that they have some degree of control over their work and that they are adding value by being who they are.
4. Allow self-expression
Not so long ago I was a regular visitor at UK Border Force offices and it was the first time I was in an office where the staff were wearing the same uniforms. At some point during that time I had to go to the City (London's financial district) and it struck me that it didn’t look that much different from the Border Force. Everyone in the City also wears a uniform, a corporate uniform. Perhaps we should try being more like our real selves for a change? After all we spend a huge chunk of our lives at work and we are most effective when we are allowed to be who we really are. I’ve worked in an office where the men were not allowed to unbutton the collar of their shirt even if they were at their desks. If they turned up at work without a tie, they would have been reprimanded by the department head.
Understandably, if you’re meeting a client, you should dress the way your client expects you to dress, which in most cases means wearing a corporate uniform but do you visit your clients everyday?
By the way, if I am ever your client, don’t come in your corporate uniform. Come as yourself – I will be more likely to buy from you.
And last but not least:
The best way to motivate your staff, even those who hate their job, is to appreciate them. Don’t appreciate them only for their results. Appreciate them for their effort too.
Don't take them for granted - thank them for putting in the extra hours. Say well done for the work they’ve put into a proposal, even though it might not have been accepted. Congratulate them when the business manager likes their idea. Celebrate their successes, however small. If you appreciate your staff, even the ones who hate their job will not want to let you down.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you want to add something, feel free to comment below.