Tag Archives: job satisfaction

Just Say ‘No’ to Forced Smiles

Last week, I was saddened by the news that Dr. Oliver Sacks is suffering from terminal cancer. He wrote this wonderful op-ed for the New York Times, where he discusses his diagnosis and how he is spending his final days. Despite the subject matter of the article, it is an amazingly uplifting piece and I highly recommend reading it.uj4rvkhodeuxooktttyg

Just after reading the piece by Dr. Sacks, I came across this article, also in the New York Times: “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile.” In it, Paul Jaskunas recounts a story of a failed interview for a teaching job where he was asked if he would describe himself as a “passionate teacher.” His answer showed him to be less than enthusiastic and he acknowledges, in the article, that he didn’t consider himself a teacher at all because he hadn’t been in a classroom in years. He goes on to discuss the disturbing “enthusiasm” and forced smiles of Disney World workers and wonders what it implies about our attitude toward work that this level of enthusiasm is expected, even if there is nothing genuine about it. Jaskunas says, “Work has been an obligatigiphy (1)on since Adam and Eve found themselves east of Eden. We are still enchained by the dull necessity of earning our bread, yet we cheerfully insist, to ourselves and one another, that we labor freely.”

True, work is mostly about survival.  For many of us, it isn’t about anything but survival. But most of us spend at least 40 hours per week—sometimes more—at our jobs. If you do the math, that’s 2,080 hours a year (about 87 full days) at work. That’s a huge chunk of our lives. While we all inherently know and understand that working is what we have to do for survival, we aren’t always aware of what spending so much of our time in a miserable job can do to our mental health.

As we learned in Heather’s post yesterday, actively disengaged employees are a huge problem for organizations. The problem isn’t so much that they don’t love what they do, it’s that they drag the organization down and cause productivity and morale problems for the entire staff. They aren’t just bad workers, they are bad for those they work with.


I realize that loving one’s job is a luxury, a privilege too many of us don’t have. But none of us should spend such a large portion of our lives laboring with forced smiles plastered across our faces. We need to find opportunities for fulfillment in the places we spend 8 hours or more a day. Even if we don’t love where we go, or what we do, or who we work alongside while we do it, we need to come away from it with our self-respect intact.

It is easy for me to understand why Mr. Jaskunas was not hired for that teaching position. He probably wouldn’t have been a good fit and there were probably other, more dedicated and enthusiastic candidates for the job. Maybe the person who was eventually hired loved the job. Or maybe they simply tolerated it until something better came along.

Near the end of his op-ed, Dr. Sacks says, “I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work anDalekRegretd my friends.” When you know your time is limited, it’s easier to focus on only the essential. Maybe we can learn something from this—about the importance of our time and how we spend it throughout our lives and consider the areas where we need improvement.

My takeaway from both these articles is this: pay more attention to how you spend your time, in your personal life and at your job. Consider your quality of life. If you have a job or a career you hate, maybe it isn’t for you. You may not ever land your dream job, and you may never find a job that you love, but seek out opportunities to do something that won’t leave you with regrets at the end of your life.

Written b10583892_10152176775975685_7374245496433923175_ny:
Muriel Call
Research Coordinator

5 Needs for Recruitable Folks

As in ancient times, talent has become the coin of the realm. Companies that multiply their human talents will prosper. Companies that don’t will struggle.
Companies need to hunt for talent continuously so as to capture people when they are ready to make a move. You have to reach people who aren’t looking for a job.
Everyone in the company should be a talent scout.
Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, Beth Axelrod Boston: The War for Talent

It’s a simple fact. Once you have the right product or service, then having people with talent makes a big difference.

This much we know for sure – the wrong people can send you plummeting in a hurry. It is the right people that set you up for the success you seek.

So, if you are going to win the war for talent, then you have to become ever-more intentional about getting the people with the best talent to come work with you.

So, imagine that you are one of those (possibly) ready to make a move. You are “recruitable.” What are you looking for in the company you move to? Here are five must-haves, five needs of recruitable folks…

#1 — I need the skills

If skill development, and continuing learning, is as critical as we think (and, it is!), then a company has to provide ongoing, perpetual skill development and learning opportunities.

The fact is that no one is equipped for the job they will be doing in the coming year(s). There are more things to learn, to keep up with. It is harder to “stay ahead” than ever before. Companies that understand this, and truly provide such ongoing skill development and learning opportunities, will be much more appealing to those who are “recruitable.”

#2 — I need the encouragement

Companies hire… people. These are real people, who need feedback – appropriate “negative feedback,” for improving their work; and much, much positive feedback. People like to be recognized for what they do well.

Every single leader/boss/supervisor/manager needs to become a master of encouragement. (The book Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner should be mandatory reading for everyone in a leading/managing position).

Put it this way: if people dread going to work because they are ignored, or constantly criticized, then they will go elsewhere if they have any talent at all. Your entire corporate culture has to become a culture of encouragement.

#3 — I need help with my pipeline

Though we talk about self-starters – and, self-starter skills and traits are truly wonderful – for those who are not the Super Bowl champion self-starters, they need help with their “pipeline.” When to contact others; who to contact; who to learn from; who to sell to; who to network with. Companies need to get really good at match-making assistance. Putting the right people in touch with the other right people.

In sales, this is obvious. Helping people in sales with their pipelines is an absolute must.

But, do not make the mistake of thinking that this is only about sales…

#4 — I need the rewards

First, the obvious. If a person is not paid enough (enough to take money worries off the table; enough to be genuinely competitive with other possible places to work) then you will not keep your best people.

But, after there is enough “money,” then it is the other kinds of rewards that matter. Go back to Kouzes and Posner’s recommendation to “personalize recognition.” Reward people for work well done, and give them tangible rewards that are unique to them (you “know” them as individuals, and reward them accordingly). Personalize their recognition.

#5 — I need to be happy when I show up at work

It really does boil down to this. If a person dreads going into the work place, they will be very “recruitable” by another company. If they love the people, the connections, the environment, the opportunities, the challenge, and they believe the work they are doing makes a difference for the better for people, they will be quite “unrecruitable.” A truly happy and productive person is really hard to steal away.

So, here they are.  “Recruitable” people think this way:

#1 — I need the skills
#2 — I need the encouragement
#3 — I need help with my pipeline
#4 — I need the rewards
#5 — I need to be happy when I show up at work

Provide all five of these, and you have a much better shot at recruiting those recruitable folks.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

A Job Satisfaction Checklist

10583892_10152176775975685_7374245496433923175_nAllow us to introduce to you The 16 Percent’s newest blogger—SGR’s own Muriel Call. Muriel joined SGR in December 2014 as a Research Assistant and is currently the Research Coordinator. Before joining SGR, Muriel was on the Library Staff for the City of Southlake, Texas. She has 15 years of experience working in the library and information science field in academic, public, and special libraries. She earned a BA in English and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, both from Louisiana State University. 

We’ve all had bad jobs. And maybe jobs that could have been great if the management hadn’t been so terrible. I’ve found myself in the latter situation at several points in my career and there’s nothing more frustrating. Everyone wants to feel that the person who hired them is just as grateful to be working with them as they are to have the job—but, in many cases, you may be made to feel that you are lucky you were even hired in the first place and that you could easily be replaced. When I’ve worked for organizations with this kind of leadership, I didn’t stay with them for very long because a) I couldn’t see a future for myself in the organization and b) the low morale problem with the rest of the staff; these weren’t happy places to work.

Annex-Chaplin-Charlie-Modern-Times_04Have you ever worked under “insecure leadership”? I have, and I can tell you, there was a great deal of frustration because I felt I had no voice, no agency—that I wasn’t really a part of the organization. I felt like little more than a cog in a huge, inanimate machine. My years of knowledge and experience weren’t valued and when I was able to express an idea for making a process more efficient or implementing a new way to increase productivity, management would use the idea and not give me credit or any sort of acknowledgement for it. Insecure managers aren’t good at recognizing the strengths in others or, worse, feel intimidated by them when they do recognize them.

In Mike’s blog on Leadership Rehab, he mentioned the following destructive leadership habits:

  • Blaming others for failures that are beyond anyone’s control
  • Verbally abusing employees
  • Mind games that send mixed messages so that employees never feel secure
  • Creating a moving target for success
  • Expecting perfectionism from others, while denying their own flaws1300x759xWhat-is-the-autocratic-leadership-style-and-when-is-it-best-to-apply-it.jpg.pagespeed.ic.bi-d-HNo0z

I have worked under managers who did these very things—one manager even made her employees cry on several occasions! These types of managers never seem to realize that they won’t get the best from their employees by these methods.

I have to confess, I never thought much about leadership before I came to work for SGR. I could definitely tell the difference between a bad boss and a good boss but never considered what it takes to be an effective leader, and what constitutes the difference between a “leader” and a “manager.” Now I know the positive effects that great leadership can have on both one’s personal and professional outlook.

Most managers just want to maintain an even keel. They want to get things done but so many rarely strive to achieve more than the minimum required. The goal is to float along with the current and try not to sink; they’d rather no one rock the boat, even if there’s potential for great success. Or maybe they micromanage to the point that innovation is completely stifled. That’s why they are managers and not leaders; they manage and maintain mediocrity, they don’t make sincere efforts to go beyond functioning at a basic level. When this is the culture, it’s often a systemic problem and the entire organization may be in need of “rehab” to fix the problem.

As employees, we all have different needs, different strengths, and different expectations.  These are the characteristics I now know I need for job satisfaction and engagement:cbd368e6cf52a0ff5bf06e889929d5d9e79d5e81a18efce8ac4ee987bd0c315c

  • An environment in which there is a high level of trust amongst staff. While a bad manager will often pit employees against one another or take sides, a good leader will find ways to build trust with employees so that there is a real sense that you are functioning as a team. You will achieve so much more if you work as a team.
  • An environment in which to flourish and grow. A good leader will recognize your strengths and utilize them to achieve goals and set new goals. For me, this means being given opportunities to learn, be creative, and challenge myself intellectually. You may require different things, but the point is, a good leader will help you meet these needs. There are incentives for leaders to do this. As a recent Harvard Business Review article pointed out, “…identifying and capitalizing on each person’s uniqueness saves time. No employee, however talented, is perfectly well-rounded.” Time is much better spent focusing on natural abilities. The article also says that, “capitalizing on uniqueness makes each person more accountable.” By challenging an employee to make their natural abilities the cornerstone of their contribution to the organization, they take ownership of their skills and can practice and refine them.
  • Acknowledgement. Raises, promotions, and other rewards are great when you get them but even just a kind word from management when you’ve put time and effort into a project makes a huge difference in staff morale. It makes you feel that the work you do is acknowledged and appreciated.2014-02-04-Pay-Rise

A great leader will give you these things. Organizations with strong leadership aren’t like inanimate machines, they are living, breathing entities that grow and change with time and that allow you to grow and change as an employee (Tweet This). It took a major career change for me to find a work environment that provided me with job satisfaction, engagement, and the opportunity to learn and hone new skills. Consider your own job satisfaction checklist and determine if your leadership is helping or hindering you in meeting your goals.

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